Late Schweinsteiger goal keeps Chicago Fire playoff hopes alive
Two hours before Saturday night's Chicago Fire game kicked off, Jonathan Bornstein sat back in a soft chair in the SeatGeek Stadium media room.
Just as he has done in his first three games since signing with Chicago on July 22, Bornstein made himself comfortable.
"I feel, like you said, very comfortable," the 34-year-old left back said before taking the field against the visiting Montreal Impact. "The first day I came in the coaching staff, the players, everyone welcomed me with open arms, so that really helped. The first game, I think I only trained one day before that, but sometimes soccer is just like that. You've got to go in, do your job, try and fit in with the team as best you can and luckily in this case, this instance, it went well."
It's gone very well for the Fire, which has picked up 7 of a possible 9 points with Bornstein in the lineup. Before he arrived, the Fire had an obvious hole in its back line. In just three games since Bornstein filled that hole, the Fire has lifted itself back into the Eastern Conference playoff race.
After Saturday's 3-2 victory against Montreal, the Fire (7-10-9, 30 points) remains in 10th place but is now just 3 points out of the seventh and final playoff spot.
Bornstein called the playoffs still "very attainable."
"When I arrived people were talking about, maybe playoffs is a long way away," Bornstein said. " ... But quickly things changed. Even the training sessions have been really intense. Everyone's minds are in the right spot."
Montreal tied the game at 2-2 in the 76th minute, but the Fire won on Bastian Schweinsteiger's header off a Djordje Mihailovic corner kick in the 88th minute.
The Fire took advantage of an Impact team that rotated its squad following a midweek Canadian Championship victory.
The Fire got the game started on the right foot, scoring in the eighth minute following a corner kick. Schweinsteiger corralled the ball along the goal line to the left of Montreal goalkeeper Evan Bush and passed back to captain Dax McCarty to the right of the penalty spot. McCarty's shot beat Bush for his first goal in a Fire shirt.
The Fire took a 2-0 lead in the 19th minute when Aleksandar Katai reeled in a Francisco Calvo pass behind the Montreal back line, then passed right to left across the field to Nemanja Nikolic for an open shot.
Montreal cut the lead in half in the 34th minute. Fire goalkeeper Kenneth Kronholm arrived late to the ball as it slid into the penalty area down the Fire's right side and tripped up Impact captain Saphir Taider. Taider got a penalty kick, which he converted, and Kronholm got a yellow card.