Alvaro Medran assisted on a pair of first-half goals, one inside of three minutes and the other in stoppage time, as Chicago Fire FC held on for a 2-1 win over D.C. United at Soldier Field on Sunday evening.
It didn't take the Fire to get on the board: on a free-kick routine in the 3rd minute, C.J. Sapong found himself on the end of a delivery from Medran and touched it past Bill Hamid to put Chicago up 1-0.
The hosts maintained the better of the play through the opening third of the match and threatened to add a second goal, but D.C. came close to getting back on terms after a couple of defensive breakdowns by Chicago that ultimately saw the ball kept out by Bobby Shuttleworth. Chicago again looked to double their margin in the 35th, but despite finding himself in a great position in the box after a Fire throw-in, Robert Beric failed to truly trouble Hamid as United were let off after shaky defense.
The Fire eventually did make it 2-0 as Boris Sekulic headed home a first-half stoppage-time tally from a Medran corner kick, the Slovakian international's first goal in MLS.
Things got a little interesting in the 56th, though, as D.C. got on the board through an own goal as a Joseph Mora shot deflected off the foot of Jonathan Bornstein and past Shuttleworth. That seemed to spark United as they gradually grew into the match, coming close to the equalizer in the 71st minute on a rebound that Ola Kamara couldn't put into the net. But despite sustained pressure, they couldn't find that second goal as Chicago saw out the result for three points.
- THE BIG PICTURE: There were several changes to Raphael Wicky's XI in this one, but a brilliant effort from Medran saw Chicago back in the win column and into a playoff position. For D.C., they'll be encouraged by a promising second-half performance, but in the end, they came up empty in Chad Ashton's first game as interim manager.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: What's better than one? Two. And a perfect corner kick dealt in by Medran in first-half stoppage time saw the Fire put their second goal of the night on the board, both assisted by the Spaniard.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Shuttleworth, credited with six saves on the night, certainly did his part in holding a pesky United team at bay. But Medran was absolutely terrific this evening in easily his best performance in a Fire kit thus far, showing why Chicago brought him in during the offseason.