In a tightly contested matchup at Toyota Park Saturday night, the Fire and NYCFC were both rewarded with a point for their efforts after playing to a 1-1 draw.
The Fire were hot off the mark in the first half, dominating possession and creating a majority of the opportunities. Their hard work in the final third ultimately paid off 20 minutes in, as Niko bagged his 21st goal of the season to break the deadlock.
From there, the boys continued to create opportunities left and right, until a lapse in concentration just before half time allowed David Villa to slip through and finish the equalizer from inside the six. This turned out to be the last goal-scoring effort of the night, as Matt Lampson and Sean Johnson continued to deny both sides a winner in the second half.
The Men in Red now sit four points behind the Sky Blues, who are currently in second, and just one point behind Atlanta in third. With games against Philly and Houston coming up to round out the season, there is a very real chance that they can bump up a spot in the East, and possibly even steal themselves a first round bye if a couple results go their way.
NYCFC close their season out with matches against New England and Columbus, while Atlanta will have to go through Minnesota, New York and league-leaders Toronto before they hit the playoffs. With that being said, there are plenty of opportunities for the Fire to steal themselves a higher league position before the playoff draw, but only if they can take care of their own results first.
At the end of the day, a draw and a positive performance is nothing to complain about at this point in the season, especially against opposition such as NYCFC. MLS action will now break for Word Cup qualifying, which means the Fire will return to action on October 15th at home vs Philly.
Our very own Dax has been called up to the USMNT side set to square off in two must-win games against Panama and Trinidad & Tobago. So make sure you get out and support the red white and blue during these crucial fixtures, and pray we don’t actually miss out on Russia after a more than dismal qualifying campaign.
That’ll do it for this weekend, folks. As always you can find me on Twitter @kieran_ruane for some poor answers to your soccer Q’s if need be. Until next time, peace.