The Chicago Fire left it late but they beat Toronto FC 1-0 at Soldier Field.
Here are three observations from the win.
Kacper Przybyłko played the role of unlikely hero
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The Fire spent nearly the entire game trying, but failing, to create any real goal scoring opportunities. The closest they came to scoring was in the 79th minute through Jairo Torres but his shot went high and wide.
Just when it looked like the Fire were going to have to settle for a draw, Kacper Przybyłko’s header rolled past Toronto keeper Sean Johnson in what proved to be the winner in the 90th minute.
Miguel Navarro made the overlap down the left and then cut the ball back to Przybyłko whose header guided the ball to the back of the net for his fourth goal of the season.
It’s been a trying season for Przybyłko who has seen his playing time significantly reduced with Frank Klopas opting for either Kei Kamara or, recently, Georgios Koutsias.
But only one minute after coming as a substitute, Przybyłko certainly found a way to make the most of his cameo.
The Fire finish a perfect three-for-three at home
After having won two of three games on the road, the Fire knew they had an opportunity to get back into the playoff mix if they had a good homestand. In all likelihood they needed to win all three games to have a chance.
Well, they managed to do just that.
A 1-0 win over Nashville, a 3-0 rout of Montréal and now a 1-0 win over a lowly Toronto side, the Fire took all nine points and have cemented their name into the MLS playoff mix.
That’s three straight wins without allowing a goal. Chris Brady became only the second teenager to keep three straight clean sheets. The other was former Fire goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina.
While the win over Toronto wasn’t the best played game of soccer, at this point in the season, the only thing that matters is picking up the win. Again, it wasn’t pretty but it’s a game you wouldn’t be surprised if the Fire ended up losing.
Toronto came close on a couple of occasions but the Fire snuffed out the threat. They held the visitors to only one shot on target. That defensive solidity is what allowed Przybyłko to be the hero in the end.
The Fire depend on themselves from here on out
As mentioned, the Fire put themselves squarely in the conversation for the MLS playoffs. The win saw them move up to eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 32 points. Only a couple of weeks ago, Chicago was lounging near the bottom of the table.
The objective from here on out will continue to be to try climbing up in the standings. The Fire find themselves only three points behind Atlanta United for seventh place.
As it stands, whether or not the Fire make the postseason is completely up to them. They’ve put themselves in a good position and need to build on it.
However, if there is a negative it’s that the Fire don’t play another regular season game until August 20 against Orlando City.
The Leagues Cup is set to begin but the Fire will take part. They’ll face off against Minnesota FC on July 27.