Fabian Herbers scored in the 34th minute as the Chicago Fire defeated Nashville SC 1-0 on Saturday night.
Chicago (6-7-8, 26 points) needed only Herbers’ third goal in four games to win for the third time in four games and beat Nashville for the first time in five tries.
Meanwhile, Nashville (11-6-5, 38 points) entered the game second in the East but lost its third consecutive away game for the first time in franchise history. Nashville has been shutout in all three of its road losses and has only scored one goal.
Hany Mukhtar, the MLS goal leader with 13, did not start the game in order to minimize his workload, but he made things interesting when he came on as a substitute after halftime.
Mukhtar hit the post in the 72nd minute, while Teal Bunbury’s near header in stoppage time was saved by 19-year-old Chicago goalkeeper Chris Brady (two saves).
Bunbury broke through the Fire defense in the 12th minute, then found himself on a 1-v-1 against Chicago’s Rafael Czichos, who blocked the Nashville attacker’s attempt twice.
Herbers’ wide-open shot from the top of the box flew over the bar in the 23rd minute, giving Chicago its first quality chance.
Herbers, on the other hand, didn’t miss 11 minutes later, when he took a Nashville mistake, put it wide to Maren Haile-Selassie, then got it back to beat goalkeeper Joe Willis.
Nashville appeared to tie the game in the 41st minute, but Jack Maher’s successful header was called back due to a foul on the play. Mukhtar nearly tied the game in the 56th minute, but Chris Brady saved his looping free kick.
On the hour mark, Brian Gutierrez appeared to have extended the Fire’s lead, but he was called for a hand ball.
Nashville was without star defender Walker Zimmerman, who received two yellow cards in the previous weekend’s win over D.C. United.