BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — If the past four days have shown anything, it’s that the Chicago Fire have improved at beating average or worse teams at home.
After blasting the New England Revolution by five goals Wednesday, the Fire brushed aside Minnesota United 2-0 on Saturday at SeatGeek Stadium. The Fire secured consecutive wins for the first time since 2017.
Two wins in four days puts the Fire’s record to an even 4-4-4, nothing to boast about, but an improvement after a sluggish start. The wins, and the relatively stress-free fashion in which they came, are also a significant improvement from lackluster home draws against Orlando and Vancouver early in the season.
“The team is still growing,” coach Veljko Paunović said. “I think the confidence from these two consecutive wins is very important. We still know that we have to keep working together.”
The Fire took the lead on one of the wildest counters in MLS this season. A Minnesota corner kick in the 21st minute quickly turned into a 3-on-2 for the Fire, in their own half. Przemysław Frankowski raced away and set up Nicolás Gaitán to walk the ball into the goal.
Gaitán’s night didn’t last much longer though. He exited with a hamstring injury in the 33rd minute.
“He pulled his hamstring, so we’ll see what’s the final diagnosis,” Paunović said. “We don’t think it’s bad, but he’s going to miss some games. He will do the MRI tonight.”
May 11, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Fire defender Johan Kappelhof (4) takes the field before the game against the Minnesota United at SeatGeek Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
A minute later, Aleksandar Katai scored with a shot from a tight angle to double the lead. Neither team had many significant chances the rest of the way.
For the Loons (4-4-3, 15 points), Darwin Quintero returned from ankle injury suffered April 28 against D.C. United. Quintero played 45 minutes after subbing in at halftime.
Francisco Calvo played the full 90 minutes at center back and got the shutout against his former team. Calvo was traded from Minnesota to the Fire on May 3.
Calvo felt good about the win, but downplayed the significance of facing his former team.
“It’s not because of them,” Calvo said. “It’s because we have two straight wins and that’s important for the team. I think I’m happy because Chicago is getting there. Three clean sheets in three games. That’s not coincidence. It’s something good that we’re doing.”
The Fire moved into a playoff spot with the win. Atlanta is two points behind seventh place with three games in hand and hosts Orlando on Sunday.