CHICAGO – Sitting at the bottom of the MLS standings after dropping a two-goal lead on Saturday in front of their home supporters, Chicago Fire FC was in desperate need of a spark in their next match four days later.
Jhon Duran was ready and able to provide that, and in the process made some club history.
The first-year player got the club off on the right foot with a pair of high-energy goals that were the difference in a 2-0 win over Toronto FC that snaps the club’s two-game losing streak. In the process, the climbed out of last place in the Eastern Conference, now ahead of Toronto and DC United.
But Duran was the star of the evening as he scored both of his goals on breaks down the field to make a bit of Fire history. He became the second-youngest player to score multiple goals in a game at 18 years and 212 days old.
Only DeMarcus Beasley (18 years, 98 days) was younger doing so while in a Chicago Fire FC uniform.
“Yeah, one grows and evolves day-to-day, it is always evolving,” said Duran of his progress with the Fire. “I’m happy and working so that we can keep having good days.”
Duran’s efforts earned him the MLS Player of the Week honor for the first time in his young career.
The great performance started out early for the forward as he took a pass from Chris Mueller in the fourth minute, raced down field, and put the shot in from 18-yards out to make it 1-0.
Brian Gutierrez used a great pass of his own to get Duran on the run with the ball again, as he beat defenders and put in another score in the 16th minute. It was his third goal of the season, with both representing his first score since the May 14th match at Soldier Field against FC Cincinnati.
The performance comes in Duran’s fifth start of the 2022 MLS season and his second in as many matches as manager Ezra Hendrickson looked for consistency at the striker spot with Kacper Przybylko struggling to produce results.
“We felt like the time was right, a couple of games ago, to make the switch,” said Hendrickson of putting Duran in the starting lineup. “The kid has done well, and I always tell them it’s not a name game, it’s about performance. If you’re not starting, how you do in training will get you minutes on the pitch. And when you get your minutes, if you do well, you stay on the pitch, it doesn’t matter who you are, and everyone is held to that standard. And that’s how we’re going to be competitive as a team, that’s how we’re going to grow as a team, by making sure everyone is held accountable and do their jobs.
“We’re a team that, everyone has to play within their roles. Their roles are clearly defined. There’s no secrets about how we defend, what you have to do, how we attack, what your roles are when we have the ball; it’s just a matter of going out and doing it. And if you do it, you’ll stay on the pitch; if you don’t, you’ll come up with a bench. It’s as simple as that.”
Performances like the one on Wednesday night will keep him there.