Nikolic was engaged in a back-and-forth battle for the Golden Boot with Villa for most of the season, but pulled away from the field with a hat trick in Chicago’s 3-2 win against Philadelphia last week.
Chicago signed Nikolic to a Designated Player deal after acquiring him from Polish club Legia Warsaw last December. The 29-year-old Hungarian international has been a huge part of Chicago’s 2017 turnaround, teaming with fellow new acquisitions Dax McCarty and Bastian Schweinsteiger to help the Fire finish third in the East after ending the 2016 and 2015 seasons with the worst record in MLS.
One of the most prolific scorers in Europe before he came to the Fire, Nikolic was the leading scorer in the Hungarian league in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons and the top striker in the Polish first-division in the 2015-16 campaign. He was leading the Polish league in goals when he left Warsaw for Chicago midway through the 2016-17 European season.
The Fire will face the New York Red Bulls in the Knockout Round.
All-time MLS Golden Boot winners:
2017: 24 goals – Nemanja Nikolic (Chicago Fire)
2016: 24 goals – Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls)
2015: 22 goals – Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC), Kei Kamara (Columbus Crew SC)
2014: 27 goals – Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls)
2013: 22 goals – Camilo Sanvezzo (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)
2012: 27 goals – Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
2011: 16 goals – Dwayne De Rosario (D.C. United), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
2010: 18 goals – Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
2009: 17 goals – Jeff Cunningham (FC Dallas)
2008: 20 goals – Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy)
2007: 20 goals – Luciano Emilio (D.C. United)
2006: 16 goals – Jeff Cunningham (Real Salt Lake)
2005: 17 goals – Taylor Twellman (New England Revolution)
2004: 12 goals – Eddie Johnson (Dallas Burn); Brian Ching (San Jose Earthquakes)
2003: 15 goals – Carlos Ruiz (LA Galaxy); Taylor Twellman (New England Revolution)
2002: 24 goals – Carlos Ruiz (LA Galaxy)
2001: 19 goals – Alex Pineda Chacon (Miami Fusion)
2000: 26 goals – Mamadou Diallo (Tampa Bay Mutiny)
1999: 18 goals – Stern John (Columbus Crew); Roy Lassiter (D.C. United); Jason Kreis (Dallas Burn)
1998: 26 goals – Stern John (Columbus Crew)
1997: 16 goals – Jaime Moreno (D.C. United)
1996: 27 goals – Roy Lassiter (Tampa Bay Mutiny)