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Chicago Fire 1, New York City FC 0 | MLS Match Recap

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – A rejuvenated Chicago Fire showed no signs of cobwebs as they returned to action from a 20-day layoff to beat a resolute 10-man New York City FC 1-0 at Toyota Park Friday.

A rampant Fire (3-3-0, 9 points) dominated from the starting whistle, immediately taking the game to an injury-depleted NYCFC side, which was without Designated Player David Villa due to injury, and goalkeeper Josh Saunders due to suspension, among others.

Instead, it was one of Chicago’s own Designated Players, David Accam, who basked in the spotlight. Dangerous from start to finish, showcasing his speed and quick feet time and again, Accam created a handful of chances early on before scoring the game’s only goal in the 20th minute. He also drew the foul that would lead to the Fire’s man advantage, when NYCFC midfielder Andrew Jacobson dragged him down from behind as he was clear in on goal in the 23rd minute.

The lead was no more than the Fire deserved, as they raced out of the blocks against an NYCFC backline which was unchanged from the disappointing 1-0 loss to the Portland Timbers a week before.

After a few near misses early on, including a magnificent solo effort by Accam in the 15th minute where the Ghanaian international jinked and danced his way through three defenders before his well-placed shot clanged off the right post, the Fire soon struck in acrimonious fashion.

NYCFC goalkeeper Ryan Meara, who is on loan from the New York Red Bulls, failed to corral a wayward backpass near the endline, and in an attempt to keep the ball from going out for a corner, the young keeper inadvertently spilled the ball right to Accam, who calmly collected the loose ball and finished into the gaping net.

Things only got worse for City when Jacobson was shown his straight red card just minutes later. It was the Fire’s third straight game to see their opponent reduced to ten men.

The introductions of Patrick Mullins and Matthew Dunn late in the first half did much to stem the tide in the visitors’ favor, with New York finishing the half strongly and going close to restoring parity just before the break.

In fact, Mix Diskerud, Mullins and Mehdi Ballouchy all went close as the Fire defense showed signs of weakness despite being a man up.

The second half assumed a similar complexion to the first, however, as Accam’s pacey, incisive attacks, combined with the guile and creativity of Harry Shipp and Shaun Maloney, led to chance after chance for the Fire to get the insurance tally.

But the second goal never came, as Shipp struck the post in the 51st minute after driving through a congested defense, and Meara made a handful of brilliant saves to make up for his earlier blunder, including a neat triple save in the 83rd minute.

The silver lining for NYCFC is the performance of a makeshift backline that was under constant pressure on the night. Kwame Watson-Siriboe was superb in his third start since moving from Real Salt Lake, and is proving to be a solid third center back option to go along with stalwart Chris Wingert and the injured Jason Hernandez.

Despite being hampered by the injury bug, New York certainly have some questions to answer, as they have now lost four straight and five of six.

Next up for the Fire is a trip to Sporting Kansas City next Sunday, while New York City continues on the road when they visit the Seattle Sounders later that day. 

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