Chicago Fire 1, Columbus Crew SC 0 | 2018 MLS Match Recap
The Chicago Fire tallied a first win for the 2018 season, getting a first-half goal from 2017 Golden Boot winner Nemanja Nikolic and a second-half MVP performance from its woodwork to outlast the Columbus Crew SC, 1-0, on Saturday night in Bridgeview.
Nikolic took advantage of a rare Zack Steffen miscue for the match's only goal. Steffen's attempted distribution out of goal to Wil Trapp was too weak, allowing Nikolic to pounce on the ball and coolly slot it into the net for his fourth goal in as many matches this season.
Though the second half was dominated by the Crew SC, they couldn't capture the equalizer they needed. An apparent Niko Hansen goal was ruled offside, Gyasi Zardes clanged a sure goal off the crossbar in the 72nd minute, and Mohammed Abu hit the post 6 minutes later to add to the Crew SC's chances.
- 27' – CHI – Nemanja Nikolic Watch
- THE BIG PICTURE: The Fire needed a win to get their 2018 season on track, and doing so against their longtime Midwestern rivals was a particularly sweet way to get off the schneid. For the Crew SC, their torrid start still keeps them in the mix atop the East, though their second straight loss leaves them now looking up rather than over at NYCFC and Atlanta United.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Steffen's unwitting assist to Nikolic, resulting in the match's only goal, is the obvious choice here. Nikolic was certainly gifted a goal from the error, but now has a goal per game in his second MLS season after nearly maintaining that pace for long stretches of 2017.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: The Bastian Schweinsteiger-at-sweeper experiment was surprising at first, but now looks inspired and, dare we say it, effective. Schweinsteiger made one marauding run in the second half forcing a yellow card on Artur and a free kick, and otherwise anchored a defense that kept the Crew SC off the scoreboard. Next Saturday, we get the very real possibility of Schweinsteiger man-marking Zlatan when the Galaxy come to Chicagoland.