Kansas City, KS – The Chicago Fire earned their third straight win in improbable fashion, claiming a 1-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City at Livestrong Sporting Park on Friday.
With Chicago carrying a 2-4-1 road record into Friday's tilt and Sporting losing just once at home all season, the home side looked like a strong bet to take maximum points in the crucial Eastern Conference clash.
But Marco Pappa's strike in the 58th minute saw the Fire claim a third win on the bounce while dooming Sporting to a second successive loss. The two sides are separated by just two points as Sporting sits third in the East on 29 points, followed closely by Chicago on 27 points.
Sporting had the majority of the possession in the opening period but struggled to create many clear-cut scoring chances.
Chicago made the home side pay for its inefficiency in front of goal as Pappa notched the lone goal of the match on the counter-attack.
The Guatemalan collected a clearance from the Fire defense and immediately began his march up the pitch. Pappa found Chris Rolfe on the left side of the penalty area but got the ball back instantly, slotting a one-time effort past Jimmy Nielsen for his fifth goal of the campaign.
Sporting's best chance of the night came 14 minutes from time when Kei Kamara ghosted into the center of the box to get on the end of a pinpoint delivery. Kamara's effort looked destined for the back of the net but Sean Johnson pulled off a sprawling one-handed save to tip the ball out for a corner.
It proved to be a massive save as the Fire staved off some late pressure to preserve the clean sheet to claim all three points.
In its last two league matches, Sporting (9-5-2) has lost by a combined score of 5-0 after a disappointing road thumping at the hands of the Philadelphia Union. Chicago (8-5-3) has scored six goals across its three-game winning streak, conceding just two in the process.
Both clubs hit the road for their next league encounters as Chicago heads to BBVA Compass Stadium to face the Houston Dynamo on Tuesday while Sporting takes on the Montreal Impact at the Stade Saputo on Wednesday.