BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (July 1, 2017) – The Chicago Fire topped Vancouver Whitecaps FC 4-0 on Saturday for their eighth-consecutive win at Toyota Park, equaling the club record for regular season home winning streak.
The three points combined with a Toronto FC (10-3-5, 35 pts.) loss on Saturday also moved Chicago (11-3-4, 37 pts.) into first place in the Eastern Conference and Supporters’ Shield standings. It’s the first time the Fire have led either the conference or Supporters’ Shield race after 18 or more games since July 26, 2005.
Chicago took control of the game early thanks to a pair of goals from Nemanja Nikolic in the first 18 minutes. Arturo Alvarez added another before halftime, and Michael de Leeuw opened his 2017 account by capping the scoring late in the match. On the other side of the field, Matt Lampson earned his sixth shutout of the season and third-straight at home.
Nikolic started the barrage in the 14th minute. Joao Meira played a 45-yard pass across the field to Matt Polster at the end line to start the scoring sequence on Nikolic’s first goal. Polster surveyed the scene and threaded a pass to Nikolic in the middle of the area. The Hungarian striker crushed his shot to the near post and gave the Fire a 1-0 lead.
Nikolic doubled his haul four minutes later. This time it was Michael de Leeuw providing service with an incisive pass through the middle of Vancouver’s back line. Nikolic hit the ensuing shot off the right post and in for his MLS-leading 16th goal of the season.
Alvarez capped the first-half scoring with a left-footed volley in the 25th minute. Polster lofted a pass to Alvarez at the back post, and the winger crushed his shot past Whitecaps FC goalkeeper David Ousted for his second goal of the season.
After narrowly missing a pair of chances earlier in the game, de Leeuw found his breakthrough in the 84th minute. Nikolic led de Leeuw into the box with a pass in traffic, and the Dutch attacker calmly tucked his shot inside the far post for his eighth career goal with the Fire.
Among the milestones from Saturday night was Juninho playing in his 200th career MLS regular season game. The midfielder wore the captain’s armband and played all 90 minutes.
Chicago continued its stalwart defensive effort at home with their third-straight clean sheet within the friendly confines of Toyota Park. It was the Fire’s sixth shutout in their last eight home games. Additionally, Chicago’s two goals allowed during their last eight homes games is the lowest goals-against average during any eight-game home stretch in club history.
The Fire will take on the Portland Timbers on Wednesday, July 5 in their last game before the CONACACAF Gold Cup break. Kickoff is 9:30 p.m. CT at Providence Park on CSN Chicago and WRTO 1200AM.
MLS Regular Season
Chicago Fire (11-3-4, 37 pts.) 4:0 Vancouver Whitecaps FC (6-7-3, 21 pts.)
July 1, 2017 – Toyota Park
CHI – Nemanja Nikolic (Matt Polster, Joao Meira) 14
CHI – Nemanja Nikolic (Michael de Leeuw) 18
CHI – Arturo Alvarez (Matt Polster) 25
CHI – Michael de Leeuw (Nemanja Nikolic) 84
VAN – Matias Laba (ejection) 78
Chicago Fire: Matt Lampson, Matt Polster, Johan Kappelhof (Djordje Mihailovic 81), Joao Meira, Brandon Vincent, Juninho ©, Bastian Schweinsteiger (Drew Conner 43), Luis Solignac, Michael de Leeuw, Arturo Alvarez (Jonathan Campbell 69), Nemanja Nikolic.
Subs not used: Stefan Cleveland, Michael Harrington, Brandt Bronico, Daniel Johnson.
Shots: 18; Shots On-Goal: 12; Saves: 3; Fouls: 9; Corners: 6; Offsides: 2
Vancouver Whitecaps FC: David Ousted ©, Jakob Nerwinski, Andrew Jacobson, Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey, Cristian Techera, Matias Laba, Tony Tchani (Nicolas Mezquida 51), Christian Bolanos, Brek Shea (Yordy Reyna 64), Bernie Ibini-Isei (Fredy Montero 51).
Subs not used: Paolo Tornaghi, Christian Dean, Mauro Rosales, Erik Hurtado.
Shots: 10; Shots On-Goal: 3; Saves: 7; Fouls: 7; Corners: 5; Offsides: 2