2018 Major League Soccer, Regular Season
  • Alexander Ring (47')
  • David Villa (51')

NYCFC seals playoff berth, eliminates Chicago Fire

David Villa had a goal and an assist and Maxi Moralez dished off two assists as New York City FC clinched an Eastern Conference playoff berth with a 2-0 victory over the Chicago Fire on Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.

Alexander Ring scored the first goal for NYCFC, and Sean Johnson made two saves for his 10th shutout of the season and 53rd of his career.

The Blues, who outshot the Fire 19-8, sit in third place in the East, six points behind the second-place New York Red Bulls and six points ahead of the fourth-place Columbus Crew.

The loss officially eliminated 10th-place Chicago from the playoff race with four games to go. Stefan Cleveland, the 26th overall pick of the 2017 SuperDraft out of Louisville, made his third career start in goal and had four saves for Chicago, which saw its three-game unbeaten streak end.

NYCFC, which had managed only two total goals over a 0-1-2 stretch in the previous three games, dominated possession in the first half (66.4 percent) and outshot the Fire 9-4. However, New York City failed to score as defender Maxime Chanot twice directed headers wide from inside the box.

Ring finally broke through to make it 1-0 in the 47th minute with his second goal of the season off a nice back-heel pass from Villa. The 27-year-old Finnish midfielder got the ball at the top right corner of the 18-yard box, where he fired a left-footed shot past a diving Cleveland inside the far post.

Villa made it 2-0 four minutes later. Moralez dribbled the ball to the right of the goal and then crossed a pass back to an unmarked Villa, who drilled a shot from just outside the right side of the 6-yard box past Cleveland for his 12th goal in 21 MLS games this season.

Chicago's best scoring chance came in the first half on a bicycle kick from outside the penalty box by Raheem Edwards off a crossing header by Bastian Schweinsteiger. Johnson made a diving save.