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Chicago Fire top New York Red Bulls for first win of 2019

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — The game wasn’t particularly pretty and neither was the goal, but it was the Chicago Fire’s first win of the 2019 season.

Thanks to a Tim Parker own goal in the 48th minute, the Fire beat the visiting New York Red Bulls 1-0 on Saturday at SeatGeek Stadium.

“It was very important for us to get the win against a team like this and to build our confidence,” Fire coach Veljko Paunović said. “To build the spirit of our group and the cohesion. I think today we saw that.”

Nemanja Nikolić celebrated as if the goal was his and the PA announced it as Nikolić’s goal, but it ended up an own goal. After some chaos in the Red Bulls’ box, Nikolić reached up for an acrobatic shot attempt. It hit the post. Parker tried to clear the ball, but it just made it over the line after bouncing off Parker’s chest.

The Red Bulls (1-2-1, 4 points) pushed forward and applied some pressure on the Chicago defense. The Fire (1-2-1, 4 points) held on for their first clean sheet of the season.

“A shutout and a win, that’s all you can ask for, especially because we didn’t get a shutout until now,” Fire midfielder Mo Adams said. “We’ve kind of been conceding quite a few goals so I think for us to kind of put a stop to that and show we’re capable of keeping the back line tight and making it difficult for them and being tough to break down, I think that was key for the victory today.”

Adams made his first appearance of the season along with rookie Jeremiah Gutjahr. Paunović described both players as fantastic in the win. Adams was named the Fire’s man of the match. Gutjahr played at left back for his first MLS minutes.

Adams, who was out on loan in the USL with Memphis earlier this season, said one of his primary responsibilities was to limit Red Bulls playmaker Kaku. The Paraguayan international had no shots and was not credited with any key passes for creating scoring chances.

Mar 30, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; New York Red Bulls midfielder Aaron Long (33) kicks the ball away from Chicago Fire forward Nemanja Nikolic (23) during the first half at SeatGeek Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

“Don’t give them joy in the middle and make it difficult,” Adams said of his instructions from Paunović. “That’s what I tried to do. Kaku, whenever receives the ball, I made sure he’s facing his own goal or he doesn’t have as many touches as he’d like.”

Despite having 64 percent of the possession, the Red Bulls finished with just one shot on target. They now have back-to-back 1-0 losses including last week’s home defeat to Orlando City SC.

Nicolás Gaitán made his Fire debut, coming on in the 63rd minute. He immediately came on to take a corner kick, which was taken short. He had one shot, which was easily saved and completed five of nine pass attempts. Gaitán’s first training session with the team was Thursday.

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