BRIDGEVIEW, ILL. – The burden of a season-long road winless steak has finally been lifted.
Now Minnesota United FC hopes to build on Saturday’s 2-1 Major League Soccer victory over the Chicago Fire.
“It’s one of the things that we needed to get done,” said rookie forward Abu Danladi, who scored the pair of first-half goals.
“We executed and everybody’s really happy and everybody did a really good job. Hopefully, we can build on that.”
The Loons were without their biggest scoring threat because forward Christian Ramirez wasn’t on the trip to Chicago, but it hardly mattered as Danladi stepped into the breach as the Loons jumped to a 2-0 lead and withstood late Fire pressure for a victory in front of an announced 18,048 fans at suburban Toyota Park.
“I’m really excited the way the whole team played and me, how I was able to contribute,” said Danladi, who was selected No. 1 overall out of UCLA by the Loons in the MLS SuperDraft.
Ramirez, who has 11 goals, missed his third game because of a hamstring injury suffered July 29 against DC United.
In his absence, Minnesota (7-14-4) could only muster eight shots on goal but the more impressive effort came on defense as the Loons held the Fire, one of MLS’ most prolific attacks, to a single tally.
With the win, the Loons climbed out of the Western Conference cellar into ninth place.
Chicago (12-9-5) suffered its fourth consecutive loss and sixth in its past seven matches as it slipped into fourth place in the East.
The Loons are now 1-8-2 on the road and defeated a Fire team that was among the toughest to beat at home, now 10-2-1.
The Fire dominated first half possession with a 14-4 shooting advantage. But the Loons made the scoring breakthrough in the 37th minute on Danladi’s open net tally for his fourth goal of the season.
Danladi, playing for the second week in a row for Ramirez, struck again in the 45th minute for a 2-0 lead; he slipped in the goal box but not before he popped a shot above the outstretched arms of Fire goalkeeper Matt Lampson.
Chicago’s pressure finally paid off late in the second half. The Fire got on the board in the 77th minute on David Accam’s 14th goal of the season.
The Fire had a 20-8 advantage in shots for the game, including a 4-2 edge in shots on goal. Minnesota goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth, no stranger to the Fire during eight previous seasons with New England, recorded three saves.
Saturday’s decision left Chicago with an all-time record of 4-5-3 against expansion teams; it was the Fire’s first meeting with the Loons.