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Bastian Schweinsteiger delivers key win for Fire

Schweinsteiger scored the game-winning goal in the 88th minute for the Fire, who led 2-0 but allowed Montreal to tie the game.

Bastian Schweinsteiger celebrates his 88th-minute goal.
Chicago Fire Soccer Club

The Fire were minutes away from one of their most disheartening results of the season. After taking a two-goal lead in the first half, they allowed the Montreal Impact to tie the score and come close to severely wounding their playoff hopes.

Then Bastian Schweinsteiger rose to meet an 88th-minute corner kick, and the Fire had three crucial points with a 3-2 victory.

“He’s got so many years of experience on big clubs, big games, so to see him do that to help lift us up, it was amazing to be a part of,” left back Jonathan Bornstein said. “Hopefully he can do more of that.”

Dax McCarty and Nemanja Nikolic also scored for the Fire (7-10-9), who won their second consecutive game and pulled within three points of the Impact for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Though the Fire are still in 10th place in the East and five of their last eight games are on the road, Schweinsteiger’s goal gave them momentum heading into the final stretch.

“We know that we are getting closer, but we still have a long way to go,” coach Veljko Paunovic said.

The Fire took a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute, thanks to McCarty, who scored for the first time in his 79th game with the club. Eleven minutes later, Nikolic connected for the second consecutive game when he tapped in Aleksandar Katai’s cross.

The Impact cut into the Fire’s lead in the 34th minute, when Saphir Taider beat Kenneth Kronholm on a penalty after Taider was taken down by Kronholm. Bacary Sagna’s goal in the 76th minute appeared to cost the Fire a key win, but Schweinsteiger scored one of his most dramatic goals for the team since joining in 2017.

“Very important [win] obviously, but I’ve always said, where there’s a will there’s also a way,” Schweinsteiger said. “We fought until the end. It was not an easy game to play, especially after they tied, but we are very happy we got the three points at home.”

Saturday was the Fire’s first game after the transfer window closed Wednesday. On July 17, president and general manager Nelson Rodriguez said the Fire were “open for business,” and the biggest move turned out to be the addition of Bornstein.

The Fire have picked up seven of nine points since the veteran’s debut. And with the window now closed, Paunovic thinks any reinforcements the Fire need are already on the roster.

“At this point of the season, and after the transfer window is closed, we have to know that our best signings are in that locker room,” Paunovic said.

Having Schweinsteiger doesn’t hurt.