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2021 Major League Soccer, Regular Season
  • Álvaro Barreal (50')

FC Cincinnati escapes last place by beating Chicago Fire

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FC Cincinnati opens scoring with this beauty (0:57)

Alvaro Barreal bends one in off a free kick to put FC Cincinnati on top of the Chicago Fire. (0:57)

Alvaro Barreal scored on a free kick early in the second half as FC Cincinnati defeated the host Chicago Fire FC 1-0 Wednesday night at Soldier Field to move out of the cellar in the MLS' Eastern Conference.

Cincinnati (2-5-1, seven points) and Chicago (1-7-1, four points) entered the match tied for the lowest point total in the league.

Chicago's Robert Beric appeared to tie the score on a header in second-half stoppage time, but a video review determined Beric was offside on the play.

Fire goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth made a career-high 11 saves, including nine in the first half, to keep his team in the game.

Cincinnati broke through in the 50th minute on a free kick from just outside the top left of the 18-yard box. Barreal, a 20-year-old Argentinian, curled a left-footed shot around a wall of Fire defenders toward the near post.

Shuttleworth made a diving attempt and got both hands on the ball, but it deflected off the left post and into the net. Shuttleworth crashed into the side netting and stayed down. He was attended to by the Chicago training staff before continuing.

Chicago coach Raphael Wicky made a trio of substitutions in the 54th minute and it seemed to spark the Fire, who had some of their best scoring opportunities shortly thereafter.

In the 60th minute, shots by Beric and teammate Luka Stojanovic were blocked by defenders in a mad scramble just outside the top of the 6-yard box.

Four minutes later, Beric was alone just a couple of yards in front of the goalmouth when he took a pass. Instead of putting a one-timer into a nearly wide-open net, he tried to settle the ball first.

His heavy first touch allowed Cincinnati goalie Kenneth Vermeer to make a sliding tackle and knock the ball away.

Beric took a pass behind two defenders to get the ball near the penalty spot in the 72nd minute, but Cincinnati's Geoff Cameron was able to recover and block the shot.

Vermeer made two saves to post his first shutout of the season.