Chicago came out on fire with an inspiring goal in the first 30 seconds of the match when Michael de Leeuw put serious pressure on the backline. With a little bit of help from the strong winds, de Leeuw managed to win the ball and slot it across frame to Accam who finished calmly.
15 minutes later, it was David Accam who applied the pressure to the backline. Taking the ball up the left wing he managed to find King Nico waiting on the corner of the box who laid off the ball for McCarty’s first goal in Fire red, a beautiful half volley that found the upper left corner of the net.
A few minutes later, the theme continued when it was Harrington who applied pressure and won the ball. Harrington sped up the right wing with some nice combination play. More than once he managed to set up dangerous opportunities and this time was able to swing in a cross on a dime to find Nemanja Nicolic who managed to force Montreal’s Kyle Fisher into an own goal.
Chicago went into half against Montreal with the familiar 3-0 scoreline away from home. Still winless away from home!
The second half was underway and Chicago kept the majority of the starting lineup on the field as Montreal transitioned more starters into the game.Montreal managed to get into the game and both teams got chances but there were not too many real threats. Chicago got caught up in possession for the majority of the half but stayed calm and played out of the back instead of sending the all too well known long ball that Fire fans are used to. John Goossens’s addition into the game paid off as he fed de Leeuw in the box who got off a no look back post shot that was rolling just wide of the post. Nemanja Nikolic stayed just onside and slid in to misdirect the ball with his toe into the goal.
To end the game, Chicago’s Drew Connor got a hand to a Montreal Impact shot on goal. The call was a penalty kick that I would have argued his hand was in a natural and withdrawn position for. Piatti managed to convert a penalty kick as consolation to finish the game 4-1.
Overall the takeaway from this game is that Chicago has potential. We saw a frontline that was cohesive and able to apply pressure as a unit at the right times. This is something that Chicago fans are not used to. The weakest link of our front four, Arturo Alvarez, was debatably the most consistent difference maker from last season. In addition to the offense, we saw some pretty cool and collected play from our backline. There were very few long balls in the hope of something connecting and instead more passing around pressure of the Montreal attack. This is what I am most excited about. When defenders have the confidence to move the ball around and draw forward the opposing team, it creates space and opportunities for our forwards. Am I saying Chicago is going to win the league? No. Am I saying they will make the playoffs? I’m cautiously optimistic. Based off of preseason friendlies that mean nothing, Chicago seems to be a bubble team for the playoffs due to another year of experience for a young group and the additions of McCarty, King Nico and Juninho.
-Chicago finishes off their preseason schedule with matches: Sunday against Miami FC, Wednesday against Cincinnati FC and Saturday against Toronto FC.
-Drew Beckie, Boyd Okwuonu, Chris Konopka, Miguel Alavarado, Juan Pablo Caffa, and Guillermo Delgado have all left camp. In addition, Taylor Peay comes into camp to try bolster the backline after formerly playing for Portland Timbers.
-Soccer operations announce additions of Eric Gehrig as assistant coach, Steven Purcell as head athletic trainer and Reade Whitney as assistant athletic trainer.
Chicago Fire 4:1 Montreal Impact
Feb. 15, 2016 – Al Lang Stadium
CHI – David Accam (Michael de Leeuw) 1
CHI – Dax McCarty (Nemanja Nikolic, David Accam) 15
CHI – Kyle Fisher (own goal) 18
CHI – Nemanja Nikolic (Michael de Leeuw, John Goossens) 64
MTL – Ignacio Piatti (penalty kick) 88
MTL – Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla (caution) 30
MTL – Laurent Ciman (caution) 52
Chicago Fire: Jorge Bava, Michael Harrington (Jonathan Campbell 71), Johan Kappelhof (Joey Calistri 83), Joao Meira (Patrick Doody 78), Brandon Vincent (*Matej Dekovic 71), Dax McCarty (Drew Conner 78), Juninho (Collin Fernandez 78), Arturo Alvarez (John Goossens 61), Michael de Leeuw (*Brandt Bronico 71), David Accam (Luis Solignac 61), Nemanja Nikolic (David Arshakyan 71).
*Unsigned 2017 MLS SuperDraft pick
Montreal Impact: G-Maxime Crépeau (Evan Bush 46’); D- Kyle Fisher (Chris Duvall 46’), Mélé Temguia^ (Víctor Cabrera 46’), Wandrille Lefèvre (Laurent Ciman 46’), Anthony Wallace* (Aron Mkungilwa^ 46’); M-Dominic Oduro (Matteo Mancosu 46’), Marco Donadel (Calum Mallace 46’), Patrice Bernier (Andrés Romero 46’), Hernán Bernardello (Louis Béland-Goyette 46’), Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla (Nacho Piatti 46’); F-Anthony Jackson-Hamel (Nick DePuy 33’, Michael Salazar 61’)