New York City FC outlasts Chicago Fire to earn fifth seed in playoffs

ByReuters via ESPN logo
Sunday, November 8, 2020

Valentin Castellanos scored the tiebreaking goal in the 77th minute and visiting New York City Football Club edged the Chicago Fire, 4-3, Sunday at Soldier Field.

NYCFC (12-8-3, 39 points) ended the regular season on a four-game winning streak and has scored 13 goals in that span. NYCFC finished as the fifth seed and will face the Columbus Crew in the first round.

Chicago (5-10-8, 23 points) needed a win to get into the postseason for the first time in three seasons. Instead, the Fire ended the season on a six-game winless skid (0-2-4).

Following a wild first half that ended in a 3-3 tie after NYCFC blew a pair of two-goal leads, Castellanos scored his sixth goal -- fourth in two games -- by capitalizing on a Chicago miscue.

Chicago defender Miguel Angel Navarro threw the ball in from the left side of the field near the Fire's net but the toss never reached any of his teammates. Instead the ball reached Castellanos, who easily scored from close range into the right side of the net.

Alexander Callens and Gary MacKay-Steven gave NYCFC a 2-0 lead through the first 32 minutes. After Robert Beric scored in the 33rd minute, Jesus Medina gave the Blues another two-goal lead four minutes later. But Przemyslaw Frankowski scored twice in a span of a minute shortly before halftime to even the match.

New York goalkeeper Sean Johnson finished with four saves as Chicago took 19 shots with seven on target.

Chicago goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth stopped six shots as NYCFC had 10 of its 20 shots on target.

Callens scored on a header in the 15th minute to open the scoring and Mackay-Steven fired the ball into the vacated net for a 2-0 lead. After Beric scored his 12th goal a minute later, Medina's left-footed drive from the top of the box gave NYCFC a 3-1 lead in the 37th minute.

Chicago quickly came back and tied the game in a span of a minute on a tap-in by Frankowski and a right-footed shot by him in the 43rd. Chicago nearly took a 4-3 lead in the 45th minute but Johnson made a diving stop on Gaston Gimenez.