The Chicago Fire came out flying and never looked back.
The Fire scored two goals inside of the first 15 minutes en route to grabbing their first win of the season via a 2-0 affair against Real Salt Lake on Saturday. Nemanja Nikolic opened the scoring and his MLS account inside of a cold Toyota Stadium in Bridgeview, Illinois after just 11 minutes, and Arturo Alvarez doubled the lead shortly thereafter with his first tally of the season.
RSL tried to muster up a response, but were unable to find much of a rhythm until the second half. Even with some improved play, Real Salt Lake failed to break down a tough Fire defense that posted its first shutout of the year in Chicago's home opener.
- CENTER MIDS DELIVER: Much was said in the offseason about the tandem that Fire newcomers Dax McCarty and Juninho would form, and everyone got a glimpse of how good they can be against RSL. McCarty and Juninho were more than solid down the middle, breaking up plays often and serving as strong links from the defense to the attack. McCarty was especially good, as he continuously picked apart Real Salt Lake's midfield with forward passes.
- TIMID RESPONSE: It took Real Salt Lake too long to react to Chicago's early goals, and even then it was not good enough. RSL struggled in the attack even when it enjoyed stronger spells of possession in the second half, and could not create much without dynamic winger Joao Plata, who was out injured. Albert Rusnak was fairly quiet and Yura Movsisyan scuffed a great chance to pull one back for Jeff Cassar's side.
- DEFENSIVE PROGRESS: While the Fire found themselves under some pressure during the closing 45 minutes, they held firm en route to recording the clean sheet. McCarty helped a bit in that regard, but the back four else showed well in making things difficult for RSL. It was a welcome sight for Fire fans after last year's well-documented troubles, and a big positive that the Eastern Conference side can take away from this match.