New York City FC faced an uphill battle from the get-go, but the Club never gave up in a gritty 1-0 loss to the Chicago Fire in front of 19,124 on Friday night at Toyota Park.
New York City FC trailed after 20 minutes and were limited to 10 men after a red card three minutes later.
In the 20th minute, goalkeeper Ryan Meara, making his Club debut in place of Josh Saunders (suspension), dove along the touchline to keep the ball in play when the ball squirmed out of his grasp and fell to forward David Accam, who easily slotted it into the empty net past a sliding Chris Wingert for a one-goal advantage.
The situation went from bad to worse for New York City FC as midfielder Andrew Jacobson was shown straight red for a tackle on the speedy Accam, trying to prevent a goal-scoring opportunity.
Head coach Jason Kreis was also forced to use two substitutions in the first half as defender Javier Calle and forward Adam Nemec needed to be replaced due to injury.
New York City FC falls to 1-4-3 (6 points), while the Fire improves to 3-3-0 (9 points).
The visitors started out the aggressor, having the match’s first few opportunities. Mix Diskerud, who missed the last match against Portland with an ankle injury, flicked the ball to Nemec, whose shot fell to Chicago goalie Sean Johnson in the second minute. The stopper was called into action a minute later, snatching onto Ned Grabavoy’s attempt on target.
Then Accam showcased his speed and elusiveness. In the 15th minute, the 24-year-old Ghanaian split a pair of defenders and got off a shot between a swarm of New York City FC players that clanked off the far post. Accam wouldn’t miss his next chance.
New York City FC had two good opportunities to equalize and gain momentum heading into halftime, but Johnson stayed strong for the Fire.
Mix unleashed a powerful strike from outside the box in the 40th minute, but Johnson palmed it over the net. The goalie also stymied Mehdi Ballouchy’s volley in the 44th as the home team, which hadn’t played in 20 days, held a 1-0 advantage into the locker room.
Meara, who is on a season-long loan from the New York Red Bulls, had a highlight reel second half. Accam blasted a right-foot shot from distance in the 63rd minute that Meara parried away for a corner. In the 78th, the goalie was at his best again, tipping Matt Polster’s rocket from 25 yards over the net. Meara’s best saves, though, came in a flurry in the 83rd minute. First he was quick to react to deny Accam of a diving header from 6 yards out with a kick save and followed it up with two more to keep the match within reach.
New York City FC returns home to host the Seattle Sounders on May 3. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. EDT at Yankee Stadium.