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Fire and Rain: NYCFC II score early, wait out weather to beat Chicago 2-4

The Baby Blues scored 3 first-half goals, then waited out an hours-long weather delay before sealing the win in Chicago.

NYCFC II midfielder Ronald Arevalo continues his blistering form | Courtesy

A dominant first half by New York City FC II led the team to a thrilling road victory against Chicago Fire FC II. The Baby Blues made six changes in the lineup after their midweek US Open Cup win over Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, and dominated the home side despite a multi-hour weather delay that halted the match right before halftime. 

On paper, this was a tricky match for NYCFC II as their MLS NEXT Pro form has struggled compared to their US Open Cup success. Entering this match, the Baby Blues sat in 12th place in the Eastern Conference, with Chicago comfortably in fourth place. New York City are now in seventh place, with 12 points after eight games.


New York City FC II: 17 shots, 9 shots on target, 47% possession, 335 passes, 79.7% pass accuracy, 10 fouls, 3 saves

Chicago Fire FC II: 14 shots, 5 shots on target, 53% possession, 393 passes, 83.5% pass accuracy, 13 fouls, 5 saves

• New York City, Taylor Calheira 7'
• New York City, Jacob Arroyave 18'
• New York City, Drew Baiera 21'
• Chicago, David Poreba 57' (penalty)
• Chicago, Drew Baiera 59' (own goal)
• New York City, JJ Jiménez 72'

A 3-goal first half

NYCFC II sprinted out of the blocks and struck first within six minutes of the opening whistle. A beautiful ball along the left touchline by defender Christopher Tiao played striker Taylor Calheira through, who drove into the box, cut the ball onto his left foot, and fired his shot into the top of the net from point-blank range.

The lead was almost doubled three minutes later as Klevis Haxhari latched on a corner that struck the woodwork. The New York City peeled away to celebrate what he thought was a goal, but the Chicago goalkeeper prevented the ball from crossing the line. 

The game continued to be dominated by the visitors, who scored the second goal in the 17th minute. In an identical finish to the first goal, midfielder Ronald Arevalo set up Jacob Arroyave who blasted his shot into the top of the net from the same spot as Calheira had earlier.

It took only another three minutes for NYCFC II to get their third of the match, as Haxhari played a ball along the right touchline to Drew Baiera, who capitalized off a slip from the Chicago defender to charge in through on goal. He had runners in the middle of the box, but he decided to go it alone and slotted the ball bottom left for his first goal of the season. That made it 0-3 to the visitors within the first 21 minutes of the game.

NYCFC II wasn’t controlling the majority of possession, however, they were continuously turning over Chicago in the midfield and playing quick balls to their forward runners, catching the home team out of position.

Weather delay lets Chicago back into the game

The game slowed down a bit after the third as Chicago entered crisis control mode. NYCFC II looked like they would cruise to an easy victory, but in the 40th minute, the game was delayed due to weather. The break lasted multiple hours, which took the wind out of NYCFC II’s sails and offered Chicago a chance to regroup. 

The home team was let back into the game in the 55th minute as a poor tackle attempt by New York City defender Samuel Owusu led to a breakaway for Chicago’s Christian Koffi. Koffi drove into the box and was subsequently chopped down by Haxhari, which led to a penalty for the home team. Dawid Poreba stepped up and sent New York City goalkeeper Alex Rando the wrong way, cutting the deficit to only two.

Courtesy MLS NEXT Pro

Chicago continued to mount a comeback. Only two minutes later, Romain Dontae Blake’s shot deflected off of Baiera’s back and curved past Rando to cut New York City’s lead to one.

But that comeback was snuffed out in the 71st minute as JJ Jimenez fired a rocket from the top of the box into the top corner of the goal. Jimenez continues his blistering form this season, as both he and Calheria have shown excellent prowess in front of goal.

Next up: Toronto FC II, New Mexico United

Jimenez’s strike effectively ended Chicago’s hopes and placed a ribbon on top of a dominant road victory for the Baby Blues. Following the victory, NYCFC II is now in 7th in the Eastern Conference and will host Toronto FC II this Friday in MLS NEXT Pro play before hosting New Mexico United of the USL Championship on Wednesday, May 2, in the Round of 16 of the US Open Cup.