Player of the Matchday

Fire’s Nemanja Nikolic wins Alcatel MLS Player of the Week after hat trick

On Sunday Nemanja Nikolic notched the first hat trick of his MLS career, scoring three goals to help the Chicago Fire come back from behind and defeat the Philadelphia Union 3-2.

On Tuesday, the Hungarian international was deservedly rewarded after being named Alcatel MLS Player of the Week for Week 32, as voted on by the North America Soccer Reporters (NASR).

With 24 goals in the regular season, the 29-year-old striker has a commanding lead in the Golden Boot race going into the last week of the campaign. Nikolic, who has scored eight goals in his last six games, has the Fire sitting in third place in the Eastern Conference as the team prepares for their first playoff appearance since 2012.  

Nikolic got things going early on Sunday as he opened the scoring just three minutes into the game after chasing down a long ball by Brandon Vincent. After dribbling into the box, the Hungarian slotted a shot past Union goalkeeper Andre Blake for a 1-0 Fire advantage.

Philadelphia climbed back with a pair of strikes in the first half for a 2-1 lead, but the Chicago forward was given a chance from the penalty spot in the 64th minute to equalize the score at 2-2. The Fire finished the match when Vincent squared a ball into the middle of the box in the 78th minute and Nikolic smashed it home to complete his hat trick.

The Chicago Fire play its final match of the regular season on Decision Day presented by AT&T this Sunday when taking on the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium (4 pm ET, MLS LIVE).

The MLS Player of the Week is selected each week of the regular season by a panel of journalists from North America Soccer Reporters (NASR). The group consists of members of print, television, radio and online media.