Nemanja Nikolic tacked on to his MLS Golden Boot lead by scoring twice as the red-hot Chicago Fire cruised to a 4-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps at Toyota Park on Saturday night.
Nikolic struck twice in a span of four minutes early in the first half to make it 16 goals in 18 matches for the Serbian forward and Arturo Alvarez latched onto a Matt Polster cross to put a side-volley inside the far post to make it 3-0 for the hosts before the half-hour mark. Michael de Leeuw closed out the scoring in the 84th minute.
Bastian Schweinsteiger left the match three minutes before halftime with what the Fire is calling “right hip pain.”
- 14’ – CHI – Nemanja Nikolic WATCH
- 18’ – CHI – Nemanja Nikolic WATCH
- 25’ – CHI – Arturo Alvarez WATCH
- 84' - CHI - Michael de Leeuw WATCH
- FIRST-PLACE FIRE: The hottest team in Major League Soccer is now unbeaten in 10 straight matches and have won eight in a row at home. And now Chicago is atop the Eastern Conference – and the Supporters Shield standings – with 37 points. It is the first time the Fire are atop the standings 18 games into the season since July 26, 2005.
- POLSTER THE CREATOR: Polster was so influential in the Fire’s victory, setting up two of the three goals. He took a ball off his chest on a clever switch by Brandon Vincent and laid off to Nikolic for his first goal and then ran into space and played a perfect ball to Alvarez, who had a better finish and celebration to boot.
- STREAKING NO MORE: Things turned pear-shaped for the Whitecaps early, falling in a 3-0 hole before the match was 30 minutes old, as they saw a three-match unbeaten streak come to an end in Chicago. It also meant Vancouver was unable to move above the playoff line and remain one point behind the LA Galaxy ahead of the Cali Clasico later Saturday night.