May 9, 2018; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Fire forward Aleksandar Katai (10) shoots the ball against Montreal Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush (1) during the first half at Bridgeview Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Fire defender Kevin Ellis scored in the 89th minute for a late victory Wednesday night over the Montreal Impact, 1-0 in front of an announced crowd of 10,067 at Toyota Park.
With the need to bounce back from a 2-1 Saturday loss to Atlanta United, Fire coach Veljko Paunovic deviated slightly from the weekend’s 4-2-3-1. He opted for a 4-4-2 diamond midfield with Alan Gordon replacing Elliot Collier up top and Aleksandar Katai in more of an attacking-midfielder role. The aim was to maintain more possession in order to create.
Although the Fire (3-4-2, 11 points) dominated possession in the first 45 minutes, chances came very few and far between against an Impact side very narrow defensively.
After failing to produce enough offense, Paunovic reversed the original change in his lineup, swapping Collier for Gordon in the 61st minute. He later added Diego Campos in place of Nemanja Nikolic, who had been mostly erased by the Impact defense.
The addition of Collier and Campos added more pace as Remi Garde’s Impact (3-7-0, 9 points) ramped up pressure higher up the pitch, to no avail. Chicago goalkeeper Richard Sanchez earned his second clean sheet of the season.
Ellis, who also scored Chicago’s lone goal against Atlanta, put on the hero outfit by scoring in his second straight game and securing the first Fire victory since a 1-0 win against Columbus on April 7. He came down the right side, gathered a pass near the corner flag and then raced inside the penalty box to take shot that deflected off an Impact player and sailed by goalkeeper Evan Bush, frozen in place.
Wednesday’s win was only the Fire’s second at Toyota Park this season, and it was the fourth-consecutive road loss for Montreal. The victory puts the Fire back within three points of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They next visit the Columbus Crew at MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday.
Watch full highlights of the match below.