Rodriguez: Luis Solignac showing Fire value of a good support striker

It was a good week for Chicago Fire forward Luis Solignac, who scored two winning goals, including the clincher in Saturday's 2-1 road victory over the New England Revolution.

The Argentine now has five goals in 16 appearances across all competitions this season for the Fire, his best goal tally since coming to the United States in summer 2015. And it seems he's on track to add at least a few more along the way.

Put simply, Solignac is fulfilling the role of a support striker at the moment for Chicago. It seems likely Nemanja Nikolic -- currently the MLS Golden Boot leader -- will continue to be the primary scoring option for the team, but that form has helped give Solignac opportunities, and in turn, fueled more scoring chances for Nikolic, too.

The Fire don't really line up in a two-forward formation, as David Accam or Michael de Leeuw have typically played up top in an attacking band of three all season for the Fire. All of them play in a fluid fashion, taking turns dropping deeper, wide, or staying high and central. If we assume Nikolic is an automatic starter at this point, then Solignac, Accam and de Leeuw each bring different skills to help complement Nikolic and give Chicago's attack a dynamic threat.

But Nikolic and Solignac have shown a propensity to play off each other so far this season, to great effect.

A good example of this comes from the win over the Revolution, on Chicago's first goal, scored by Nikolic:

Matt Polster's pass to set up Nikolic's breakaway, plus Nikolic's ability to stick with the play after his initial attempt was saved, are what first come to mind when watching this goal. But you'll notice on the replay that Solignac plays a useful role in supporting the goal.

First, you'll see that Solignac drops near the area where Nikolic picks up the ball, which draws a defender near him. After he sees Nikolic take off, he makes a run to the back post. In this situation, he doesn't get a chance off a rebound, since Nikolic gets that opportunity itself, but he's ready in case the ball comes over his way. But on top of that, he helps Nikolic by keeping Revolution defender Benjamin Angoua near him. Angoua doesn't slide over because he needs to cover Solignac or a possible pass across the goalmouth to the Argentine, and Nikolic takes advantage of the space available to score on the second try.

What's working is that Nikolic and Solignac seem to understand how to work together in space, and both players are scoring goals from it. And again, Nikolic may be counted on to score the bulk of the chances, but the fact that Solignac is chipping in with goals means defenders have to take the threat that he will score seriously, and can't cheat off him as much as they might have in the past. The effect is positive for both players, as each drags defenders around and opens up space for his teammate.

"Support striker" is often used as a euphemism to describe a forward who isn't prolific. And while Solignac has not scored freely since coming to MLS, his hard work is paying off, and these days, he appears to be fulfilling the role in the most positive sense.

Topics: