MONTREAL — In his fifth Major League Soccer season, Daniel Lovitz finally scored a goal. He couldn't have plotted a better scenario.
The left-footed Montreal Impact fullback volleyed in a ball with his right foot in added time to give the Montreal Impact a 2-1 victory over the slumping Chicago Fire on Saturday night.
Moments before the goal, on a rebound from Saphir Taider's corner kick, Lovitz had been on the ground writhing in pain from a shot to his left ankle. Then he got up and scored.
"I didn't know what form it would take, I just knew that it would come," Lovitz said of his first goal. "When I became a defender I thought chances were going to be harder to come by, but sometimes you have to be in the right place at the right time and believe in what you're doing. I'm happy. But most importantly, we won."
Ignacio Piatti also scored for Montreal (10-13-3), which ended a four-game winless run that included three draws.
Nemanja Nikolic scored in the second half for the Fire (6-15-5), who lost an eighth game in a row. Chicago has not won since a 3-2 decision over New York City on June 30.
Lovitz was mostly a forward or a midfielder in his first three MLS seasons with Toronto FC and was a utility player when he first joined the Impact in 2017. But a season-ending injury to Ambroise Oyongo made him a full-time left back and he has kept that spot under new coach Remi Garde.
"I knew it was a position I needed a bit of time to perfect and focus on," he said. "Unfortunately last year we suffered an injury but fortunately for me I was able to step in and get the most consistent playing time in one position in my career. Since then I haven't looked back."
And now he has a goal, which drew some teasing in the locker room.
"He was walking around with ice on his foot, milking it," said grinning goalkeeper Evan Bush. "C'mon man. You score a goal. Now he'll probably take a few days off training.
"But I'm extremely happy for him. That was a pretty horrible tackle just before the goal. I wasn't sure if he'd be able to finish the game the way he was limping around. But I guess it was good that it was his left foot because he scored with his right. He deserves it because he's been a warrior for us."
The Fire started German midfield star Bastian Schweinsteiger at centreback and it didn't go well early on, as he bumped Taider just inside the 18-yard box and was called for a penalty, which Piatti converted in the sixth minute for his 12th goal of the season.
Ten minutes later, a mix-up in the Chicago box saw Schweinsteiger nearly put the ball into his own goal, but Nico Hasler rushed in to sweep the ball off the line. The Impact were denied a claim for a Schweinsteiger hand ball by referee Baldomero Toledo.
But the Fire outplayed Montreal for most of the rest of the first half and the start of the second.
Three minutes after the intermission, the Fire signalled their determination to end their streak when Nikolic was sent in alone on the left side but saw his low shot tipped just wide by Bush.
Nikolic's header on a cross from the right side was stopped on the line, but he collected his own rebound and fired in his 11th of the season to equalize in the 70th.
The Impact went on the attack late, bringing in newcomers Quincy Amarikwa and Micheal Azira, and it paid off as Taider's corner kick was pushed outside the area and Lovitz volleyed a bouncing shot into the left side of the net for the game-winner.
"We would have been in some real trouble if we didn't get three points," said Bush. "To be honest, we probably didn't deserve three points, but sometimes you've got to get them when you don't deserve it."
It was a key win for Montreal, which kept it's top-six playoff position heading into a stretch of tough games, starting next week in Toronto.
"It was very important to win at home," said Garde. "We knew we were up against a team that was desperate to win. It was maybe their last chance. And it was important for us to get momentum going into our last (stretch of) games."
Bacary Sagna, signed two weeks ago, made his Impact debut at right back.