Week 8

Chicago Fire FC II pull away from FC Cincinnati 2 to earn first MLS NEXT Pro win

The long and eager wait for Chicago Fire FC II to celebrate its first MLS NEXT Pro victory came to an end on Sunday with Ludovic Talliander’s squad hanging on for three points against rivals FC Cincinnati 2 at SeatGeek Stadium. 

Goals from Omari Glasgow, Victor Bezerra, and Alex Monis propelled Chicago Fire II to a 3-1 home win over Tyrone Marshall’s side. Chris Brady made six saves, delivering a strong performance in goal as Chicago Fire II handed FCC2 their sixth defeat in seven matches. 

Brady made the first key save of the day for Chicago Fire II in the 19th minute, denying Nicholas Markanich from point-blank range. A great passage of play from FCC2 allowed Markanich a strong run towards goal, but his low shot was pushed wide by Brady.

Glasgow made the most of his first MLS NEXT Pro start, delivering the opening goal in the 28th minute. Glasgow pestered FCC2 defenders inside of their own defensive box, before winning possession and drilling a right-footed shot into the bottom-right corner.

The lead did not last long for Chicago Fire II though as Andrew Akindele equalized for FCC2 just 45 seconds later. Akindele picked up possession on the right wing before breezing past Kendall Burks and rifling a shot into the roof of Brady’s net for his first MLS NEXT Pro goal.

Brady kept the score at 1-1 in the 32nd minute, denying Markanich from giving FCC2 a first-half lead. Markanich continued to cause issues for Chicago Fire II’s backline, but the pesky forward was kept at bay by the 18-year-old goalkeeper. 

After a frantic start to the second half, Chicago Fire II swung momentum back in their favor thanks to Victor Bezerra’s header. Josh Penn’s dangerous delivery from the right corner flag was hammered home by Bezerra in the 58th minute, as the forward left his marker and beat Beckham Sunderland to the top-right corner. 

Markanich’s header forced Brady into another top save, as FCC2 continued to knock on the door for an equalizer. However, Chicago Fire II would ice the home victory after constant pressure on the counterattack. 

Alex Monis delivered the final nail in the coffin, sneaking a low shot past Sunderland on a set-piece, giving Chicago Fire II a two-goal advantage they would not relinquish. 

Chicago Fire II next hit the road for a Week 9 clash with NYCFC II on May 21 while FCC2 hosts New England Revolution II on May 22.

The Story: Chris Brady shines as Chicago Fire II claims first MLS NEXT Pro win

Chris Brady has drawn plenty of attention during his time in the Chicago Fire academy and Sunday’s performance against FC Cincinnati 2 was just the latest example of what he can bring down the road, whether that be in MLS NEXT Pro or in MLS.

The 18-year-old made six saves, while only conceding his second goal through four appearances this season. Brady was busy for the entire 90 minutes against FCC2, denying Nick Markanich on three different occasions, and also repelling three additional players from finding the back of the net. 

Brady’s strong day was one of several bright spots for Chicago Fire II, who hasn’t had many positive moments to enjoy in their opening seven matches of the season. He now has 18 saves through four MLS NEXT Pro appearances, continuing to be one of the top shot-stoppers in the league. 

A current U.S. Under-20 men’s national team goalkeeper, Brady has reportedly been linked with signing a new contract with the Fire’s first team, a move that could be determined pending what happens next with Gabriel Slonina’s immediate future in Chicago. Although his time with the first team has mainly been during training, Brady will certainly boost his stock for future involvement with the Fire, especially if he continues to deliver Man of the Match performances as he did at SeatGeek Stadium on Sunday. 

Chicago Fire II will need Brady’s heroics if they want to claim a second-straight win in Week 9 against a dangerous NYCFC II attacking unit.