The Stunner at Soldier | Inside the Fire’s Historic Comeback vs. Montréal 

3.16.24 Acosta Win

It was an afternoon to remember for all Chicago Fire FC fans. 

After a frustrating start to the match, Chicago found themselves down by two goals early in the contest after two penalties were awarded to CF Montréal in the first 12 minutes.  

The Fire would get a goal late in the first half, off a well-placed diagonal ball from defender Rafael Czichos that found winger Maren Haile-Selassie sprinting toward goal. After taking a controlling touch, Haile-Selassie made no mistake, slotting the ball past Montréal goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois to cut into the lead.

A quick response in the second half from Montréal would make it 3-1, but a crucial red card to the French-Canadian side resulted in a penalty kick for Chicago, providing a lifeline in the 84th minute of play.

Homegrown Brian Gutiérrez would take responsibility and convert from the spot to kickstart the comeback for the Fire late in the match. It was Gutiérrez’s second goal of the season, which tied midfielder Fabian Herbers for the most on the team through the first four matches.

Chicago was not done yet. With nine minutes of stoppage time added to the clock, the Fire would score twice in the final four minutes to complete one of the most historic comebacks in MLS history.

In the 95th minute, a cross into the box from midfielder Kellyn Acosta found defender Carlos Terán, whose header landed to forward Hugo Cuypers. The Designated Player made no mistake, holding off his defender before punching home the equalizer from close range to score his first career MLS goal in dramatic fashion.

The game was now tied, and with the Fire still pushing, hope began to fill the lakefront as fans waited for a hero to win the game.

Enter Kellyn Acosta.

A goal that needs no real introduction, a quick dish from goalkeeper Chris Brady found the World Cup veteran just inside his own half. With the clock winding down, Acosta took a touch and attempted to play a long ball forward for his teammates in the attacking third. With the ball soaring high above the pitch, the Windy City played its part and curled it back toward goal, pushing it over the outstretched hands of Sirois to score the latest game-winning goal in Club history during regulation of a regular season match.

“I had some St. Patrick’s Day luck.” Acosta said to the media with a smile. “I saw the ‘keeper take two steps and I’m like this really might have a chance, and yeah, I mean he came out and it went over his head and the rest was history.”

Chicago claimed the lead, Acosta called game, and bedlam ensued at Soldier Field.

History made at Soldier Field 

With the result, the Fire recorded their first two-plus goal comeback since Aug. 23, 2009, when they defeated the Colorado Rapids, 3-2, at SeatGeek Stadium.

The game-winning goal in 2009 was scored by Fire alum and current English-language radio analyst, Dasan Robinson, who scored in the 93rd minute to lift Chicago over Colorado.

14 years later, the new era Men in Red ignited another comeback for the ages. 

With Cuypers scoring the game-tying goal in the 95th minute, and Acosta scoring four minutes later, it marked the first time in MLS history that a team scored a game-tying and game-winning goal in the 95th minute or later.

The Fire also became the first team in MLS history to overcome a two-goal deficit and win a match in regulation after trailing in the 84th minute or later.

Lost in the fray is the fact that Acosta’s goal was his first in a Fire uniform. Talk about getting it done in style and providing another clutch moment from a number 23 in the city of Chicago.

His goal surpassed former forward Chinonso Offor’s finish in the 96th minute on July 7, 2021, to become the latest game-winner during regulation in Chicago Fire history.

Chris Brady finds the score sheet 

Fire goalkeeper Chris Brady also made MLS history.

Chris Brady recorded his first career assist on Saturday afternoon. 

With his assist on Acosta’s game-winning goal, Brady became the second Fire goalkeeper to record an assist. Brady joins Fire legend and current goalkeeper coach Zach Thornton as Fire ‘keepers to tally an assist in an MLS match.

But Brady’s was the latest game-winning assist by a goalkeeper in MLS history, surpassing another former Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson, who recorded an assist for NYCFC in the 90+5 in the 2-1 win over D.C. United.

50 wins for the Gaffer 

Rounding out the historic afternoon for Chicago was the 50th career win for Fire legend and Head Coach Frank Klopas.

Klopas accomplished a feat only two Fire coaches have achieved before him. Klopas joins Dave Sarachan and his former coach during the historic Double-winning 1998 season, Bob Bradley, as the only coaches in Club history to reach 50 or more wins with the Fire.

In true Klopas fashion, the Greek legend was focused on the team’s victory rather than his own milestone.

“I didn't even know, thanks for reminding me.” Klopas said chuckling. “I just know that myself, my mentality, I think whether a player or when I stepped in to coach is, you know, always trying to win games. And I think for me, you can just see also with the moves that we made today, we were very positive, attack-minded moves, and we needed to do that.”

But Klopas couldn’t resist a joke to round out his answer, “Victory 50? I wish it was a little bit more to match my age.”

Needless to say, it was a St. Patrick’s Day Fire fans will not forget anytime soon, but the focus in the locker room now shifts to New England, where the Fire will look to make it back-to-back wins on afternoon games.