CHICAGO – FC Cincinnati simply needed to have the game against Chicago Fire FC, its nearest rival in the Major League Soccer standings.
FCC got what it needed, and the win wasn't without its imperfections, but they got it nonetheless.
After a first half defined by FC Cincinnati's close chances, Alvaro Barreal banged home a free-kick goal from a wide angle about 20 yards out to end the club's goalless drought that extended back to late in a May 22 game.
Barreal's score, his second of 2021, was the decisive and only tally as FC Cincinnati won, 1-0, against Fire FC Wednesday at Soldier Field.
An announced crowd of 5,926 attended.
Chicago Fire FC appeared to equalize through Robert Beric in second-half stoppage time but the goal was eventually overturned by video review as Beric was deemed to have been offside on the play.
That sequence was the last major threat from a Fire side that pushed for the equalizer for about 40 minutes following Barreal's score.
The win boosted Cincinnati to 2-5-1 on the year and lifted the club out of the bottom position in the Eastern Conference standings.
The loss dropped Chicago to 1-7-1 on the season and extended their goalless drought, which also dated to May 22. Fire head coach Raphaël Wicky was serenaded to supporter chants of "Wicky out! Wicky out!" in the closing moments of the match.
Much like in Saturday's loss at TQL Stadium to the Colorado Rapids, FC Cincinnati dominated long and important stretches of the contest, and particularly in the first half.
Cincinnati fired off 14 shots in the opening 45 minutes. They forced Chicago goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth into nine saves during that time.
Cincinnati had 11 shots on-target by game's end. A more convincing win was attainable, but FCC will take a win by any margin at this stage.
After Barreal's goal, Chicago came close to equalizing at several moments but Cincinnati still managed to preserve its first shut out of the season, though, as goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer made two saves.
The Enquirer will update this report.
CHICAGO – Welcome to Cincinnati.com's live coverage of FC Cincinnati at Chicago Fire FC at Soldier Field (8 p.m. ET). For live updates and analysis of this game, refresh this page throughout the match. For further updates, follow Enquirer FC Cincinnati beat report Pat Brennan on Twitter (@PBrennanENQ).
• FINAL: Chicago Fire FC 0, FC Cincinnati 1.
• 90th minute – VAR decision: A goal by Chicago's Robert Beric is overturned. Beric was deemed to have been offside on the scoring play before he headed in the goal.
• 50th minute – GOAL, FC Cincinnati (0-1): Alvaro Barreal. For all the chances FC Cincinnati failed to convert in the first half, Barreal really made up for it with a classy free-kick goal to finally end the club's goalless drought and install a deserved lead for FCC at Soldier Field. The goal was Barreal's second of 2021.
• HALFTIME: Chicago Fire FC 0, FC Cincinnati 0 – FC Cincinnati will be disappointed to not take a lead into the intermission after another dominant showing in the attack. FC forced Chicago goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth into nine saves. Cincinnati fired off 14 shots with Luciaco Acosta and Brenner Souza da Silva accounting for half of those, as well as four on-target shots.
FC Cincinnati starting XI (bench): Kenneth Vermeer (GK), Joseph-Claude Gyau, Geoff Cameron, Gustavo Vallecilla, Ronald Matarrita, Allan Cruz, Yuya Kubo, Alvaro Barreal, Luciano Acosta, Isaac Atanga, Brenner Souza da Silva (Edgar Castillo, Nick Hagglund, Franko Kovacevic, Jurgen Locadia, Haris Medunjanin, Kamohelo Mokotjo, Tom Pattersson, Caleb Stanko, Przemysław Tytoń, Brandon Vazquez).
• FC Cincinnati head coach Jaap Stam makes one change to his starting XI at Chicago Fire FC, re-inserting Ronald Matarrita into the starting lineup after he missed the Colorado Rapids match last weekend.