A goal by Nemanja Nikolic the 27th minute was enough for the Chicago to earn its first victory, 1-0, over the Columbus Crew on Saturday.
The Fire (1-2-1) had allowed eight goals in their first three games, but Richard Sanchez made two saves and they got some help from the pipes at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill.
Columbus (3-2-1) was unlucky in losing its second straight, twice coming with inches of the tying goal in the second half.
The Crew nearly tied the score in the 72nd minute, but the crossbar prevented Gyasi Zardes from his fifth goal of the season. He settled a cross by Wil Trapp and had Sanchez beat, but his shot from seven yards smacked underneath the frame and bounced back into play.
In the 76th minute, Mohammed Abu’s 23-yard bender hit the upper-left corner post.
It was a frustrating match for the Crew, who led decisively in shots (20-6) and corners (11-4). Nikolic’s score was the only shot on goal for the Fire. The Crew’s problem was they had 14 off-target shots and four others blocked.
For the first time in their history, the Crew had not allowed a goal in the first two road games, but goalkeeper Zack Steffen had himself to blame for the shutout streak ending. After taking a back pass, he tried to get the ball to Trapp at the top of the penalty area.
Steffen’s soft attempt was picked off by Nikolic at the top of the arc and the 30-year-old Serbian forward, who led MLS with 24 goals last season, was gifted his fourth this year. He dribbled to the left side of the box and slotted the ball past Steffen.
Columbus play at D.C. United and Chicago hosts the Los Angeles Galaxy on April 14.
—Field Level Media