CINCINNATI – it looked as if this would be another missed opportunity in a season full of them for Chicago Fire FC on Wednesday night.
Ahead by a goal entering three minutes of stoppage time, the club yielded a late goal to FC Cincinnati that appeared to seal a draw in what was a very active match. For the Fire, it was yet another opportunity for points that would get away, a scenario that’s played out often this season.
But Luka Stojanovic was about to flip this narrative and helped provide one of the moments of the season for the club.
The forward delivered arguably one of the best highlights of the year for the Fire in the 93rd minute, rocketing a strike over goalkeeper Przemysław Tytoń for a stunning game-winner to give the visitors a 4-3 win.
It came just minutes after FC Cincinnati had erased a one goal lead by the Fire with a scored from Tyler Blackett just as stoppage time began. But Stojanovic, who had come into the game as a late sub in the 86th minute, had the answer.
“I was sure it was (a) goal. 100 percent. That’s my answer,” said the forward when asked if he thought his shot would find the net.
This completed a bit of a wild game for the club that looked to be decisive early when Robert Beric scored a pair of goals to put the Fire up 2-0. But Cincinnati rallied to tie it before halftime and it remain tied until Álvaro Medrán’s free kick goal made it 3-2.
It remained that way until stoppage time, when three minutes produced two goals and Fire victory.
“Even if we would have stayed at 3-3, the way that they played, the way they competed, the mentality, just the attitude I think was great,” said interim manager Frank Klopas. “And obviously to get the three points, those emotions are sky-high and we hope they never go away but they don’t last too long, you know.
“But it was a great team performance and obviously that’s the most important thing. I’m extremely proud of the guys.”
While his playing time has been varied throughout the season, Stojanovic has made the most of his time and leads the club with eight goals on the season. None may have been as memorable as this one as it ends a two-month goal drought for the forward who is in his second year with the club.
Stojanovic has come in as a sub in the last four games, but that’s not something he’s worried about as he looks ahead to the final three matches of the season.
“I will not look back anymore. I am going to finish with that now and just look forward. We have next home game, and I’m so happy that we are going to play in front of, I hope, a lot of our fans in the last game,”s aid Stojanovic, speaking of the Fire’s 2021 Soldier Field finale against Real Salt Lake on Saturday. “They have good reason to come now and I invite them to come and to help the team in these three games to finish and we see what’s going to be after that.”
Certainly, Stojanovic provided a moment for them to remember thanks to a fantastic strike to remember in Cincinnati.