After finishing a 90th minute penalty kick in Saturday night’s 3-0 rout of D.C. United, Chicago Fire forward Nemanja Nikolic became just the second player in club history to reach the 18 goal mark in an MLS regular season alongside Ring of Fire inductee Ante Razov.
With five matches remaining, Nikolic has an opportunity to stand alone atop the Fire history books and break the single-season record should he bag his 19th of 2017 in that span. Now, in the pantheon of all-time great Chicago Fire scoring seasons, here’s a refresher on where Nikolic’s current haul stands among the rest:
Ante Razov - 2000
Razov set the bar with a remarkable season in 2000, helping lead the club to its second-ever U.S. Open Cup Championship, a Central Division title, and an MLS Cup appearance. The Fire’s all-time leading scorer finished 18 times in MLS play that year, and was equally dangerous across all competitions as well. Razov scored three times in four Open Cup matches and four times in the MLS playoffs, putting his 25 goal campaign into a stratosphere all its own.
Nemanja Nikolic - 2017
Nikolic arrived in Chicago during the offseason prior to the 2017 campaign having achieved just about every scoring title there was to achieve in previous stints with Videoton of the Hungarian top flight and Polish giants Legia Warsaw. While a quiet adjustment period to a new league would have been understandable, Nikolic instead picked up right where he left off in Europe. He became the fastest-ever Fire player to hit the 10-goal mark in a season, and would stand alone atop the single-season scoring charts if he nets his 19th at some point in the Fire’s final five games.
Mike Magee - 2013
Magic Mike Magee set the league ablaze in 2013 after being acquired from the LA Galaxy in late May. Magee had already scored six goals across 10 league matches for the Galaxy, and elevated his play even further once arriving in his home town. Magee’s 15 goals with the Men In Red over the remainder of the season gave him 21 total on the year and paved the way for his selection as MLS MVP, the first-ever Fire player to win the award.
David Accam - 2017
Arguably the Fire’s most dangerous player since arriving in Chicago in 2015, Accam’s game has reached new heights this season. The Ghanaian Designated Player has every right to be eying Razov’s mark himself with five matches remaining, having scored 14 times — his personal best as a member of the Men In Red. Accam and Nikolic are currently tied in goals-plus-assists total with 21, three shy of Razov's club-record 24 set in 2000.
Ante Razov - 1999, 2002, 2003
While Razov’s season in 2000 stands alone, it was certainly no flash in the pan. Razov became the Fire’s all-time leading scorer over multiple seasons torching league defenses at the turn of the century. His trio of 14-goal campaigns in 1999, 2000, and 2003 paved the way for a Ring of Fire career that finished with 76 goals in MLS play and 95 across all competitions for the Fire.
Dominic Oduro - 2011
Oduro became the first Fire player in seven seasons to cross the double-digit mark when he scored 12 times in 2011. Oduro was named to the MLS Team of the Week on three occasions that season, and helped lead the club to an appearance in its sixth U.S. Open Cup final.
Damani Ralph - 2003, 2004
The 18th overall pick in the 2003 MLS SuperDraft, Damani Ralph bagged 11 goals in back-to-back MLS regular seasons. As a rookie, Ralph’s 2003 campaign was nothing short of special. He scored the lone goal in the 2003 U.S. Open Cup final to sink the New York Metro Stars and deliver the club its third Open Cup title, and was crowned the 2003 MLS Rookie of the Year for his efforts.