CJ Sapong Scores in the 95th Minute, Fire Draws Orlando City SC 1-1 at SeatGeek Stadium
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. - The Chicago Fire Soccer Club scored on the last play of the game to earn a thrilling 1-1 comeback draw against Orlando City SC at SeatGeek Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Fire forward CJ Sapong, who played most of the match on the wing, scored the equalizer in the 95th minute, tallying his second goal in as many games in his home debut with the Fire. Speedy midfielder Przemyslaw Frankowski, who shined in his debut last week versus LA Galaxy, came into the game in the 68th minute and notched his first assist of the season.
With the 1-1 result, the Fire, which dominated possession 59-41 percent, are unbeaten in its last four league games played against Orlando City, including three wins and one draw.
Attacking Orlando City early in the match, the Fire (0-1-1, 1pt) created two strong chances to score in the first 20 minutes of play. In the second minute, the Fire came close to scoring an early goal when a dangerous cross into the six-yard box from Djordje Mihailovic almost found forward Nemanja Nikolic, who got tangled up with Orlando defender Kamal Miller (WATCH). Continuing to press forward, the Fire created a similar sequence in the 20th minute when midfielder Aleksandar Katai, after a well-executed stop-start move, played a threatening ball into the box for Nikolic, who narrowly missed the target with a first-time effort from the edge of the six-yard box (WATCH).
Orlando City's (0-1-1, 1pt) lone chance in the first half occurred in the 39th minute when forward Dom Dwyer hit a volley from outside the box. Reacting quickly, Fire goalkeeper David Ousted made a comfortable diving save to keep the score level heading into halftime (WATCH).
Despite outshooting the Lions 4-1 and winning the possession battle (57-43) in the first half, the Fire fell behind two minutes into the second half when a miscommunication in the defense allowed Dwyer to score an opportunistic goal from just inside the 18-yard box.
In the 64th minute of play, the Fire were reduced to 10 men when defender Jorge Corrales was shown a straight red card for bringing down midfielder Ruan just outside the box.
Despite Head Coach Veljko Paunovic being forced into reshuffling his team to cope for the loss of Corrales, the Men in Red continued to push forward for a late equalizer in the second half. In the 76th minute, Frankowski played a precise cross to the far post for Katai, who was unable to convert from close range after a strong challenge from Ruan.
Paunovic's changes paid off in the final minute of the match, when substitutes Nicolas Hasler and Frankowski combined for Frankowski to play a dangerous lofted cross into the 18-yard box from wide right. Out-jumping his defender, Sapong, who had moved to center forward when Nikolic had been withdrawn in the 68th minute, rose into the air and connected with Frankowki's cross. His strong header evaded goalkeeper Brian Rowe to find the corner of the net, with seconds to play.
Next up, the Fire will host Seattle Sounders FC at SeatGeek Stadium on Saturday, March 16. Beginning at 12:00 p.m. CT, the match against Sounders FC will be broadcast live on ESPN+ and transmitted locally on Univision Radio WRTO AM 1200.
Saturday's match marked the Fire's first home match of the 2019 MLS regular season.
Chicago outshot Orlando 7-2.
Three players made their first home start for the Fire in Saturday's match, including goalkeeper David Ousted, defender Marcelo and midfielder/forward CJ Sapong.
Sapong tallied his second goal of the season and his first goal at SeatGeek Stadium as a member of the Fire.
Midfielder Przemyslaw Frankowski and forward Fabian Herbers each made their home debuts for the Fire, with both players entering the match in the second half.
Frankowski recorded his first career assist in MLS regular season action.
Saturday's 1-1 result extended the Fire's unbeaten streak against Orlando City to four games in league play, including three wins and one draw. Box Score:
Chicago Fire 1:1 Orlando City SC
ORL - Dwyer (1) 47'
CHI - Sapong (2) (Frankowski) 90'+5'
ORL - Smith (Caution) 34'
CHI - Mihailovic (Caution) 45'
CHI - Corrales (Ejection), 64'
CHI - Schweinsteiger (Caution) 90'
Chicago Fire: Ousted; Campos (Herbers 80'), Marcelo, Kappelhof, Corrales; McCarty ©, Schweinsteiger, Sapong, Mihailovic (Hasler 69'), Katai; Nikolic (Frankowski 68')
Subs not used: Sanchez, Lillard, Martinez, Bronico
Shots: 7 Shots on goal: 3 Fouls Committed: 16 Fouls Suffered: 11 Offsides: 3 Corners: 1
Orlando City SC: Rowe; O'Neill, De John, Miller; Smith (Ruan 57'), Mendez, Johnson, Acosta; Klejstan, Akindele (Dwyer 21'), Nani © (Mueller 89')
Subs not used: Ratjitsingh, Ascues, Rosell, Colman
Shots: 2 Shots on goal: 2 Fouls Committed: 11 Fouls Suffered: 16 Offsides: 4 Corners: 2
Referee: Robert Sibiga
Assistant Referees: Jason White, Apolinar Mariscal
VAR: Ramy Touchan
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