BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (March 11, 2017) – The Chicago Fire won their 2017 home opener with a 2-0 result against Real Salt Lake on Saturday at Toyota Park.
Offseason Designated Player signing Nemanja Nikolic scored his first goal for the club, and it stood as the game-winner. Arturo Alvarez tacked on the second goal, and goalkeeper Jorge Bava earned his first MLS shutout.
Nikolic gave the Fire an early 1-0 lead with a one-on-one finish in the 11th minute. Michael de Leeuw carried the ball forward near midfield, and Real Salt Lake midfielder Sunny stepped in to make a tackle, but hit the ball past his back line and into the path of Nikolic. While most on the field stopped with an offside call on their mind, Nikolic continued forward and slotted his shot past Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
Alvarez doubled the lead four minutes later. The veteran left midfielder took an incisive pass from Johan Kappelhof, split a pair of defenders, and then cut back to his left before unleashing a shot. The ball struck a Real Salt Lake defender and rolled into the net with Rimando caught heading the other direction.
The Fire kept their clean sheet with a gritty second-half showing. Brandon Vincent had the best opportunity to push Chicago’s lead to three with a left-footed blast from inside the area in the 87th minute, but the shot rose high of the target.
Three Fire players made their club debuts, including starter Juninho and second-half substitutes Brandt Bronico and Homegrown Player Djordje Mihailovic.
The recorded temperature at kickoff was 28 degrees Fahrenheit, the making Saturday’s match the coldest home opener in Fire history.
The Men in Red return to action against Atlanta United FC on Saturday, March 18 at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Kickoff is 3 p.m. CT on UniMas. The match will also be the first-ever to appear on Facebook Live.
MLS Regular Season
Chicago Fire (1-0-1, 4 pts.) 2:0 Real Salt Lake (0-1-1, 1 pt.)
March 11, 2017 – Toyota Park
CHI – Nemanja Nikolic (unassisted) 11
CHI – Arturo Alvarez (Johan Kappelhof) 15
RSL – Chris Wingert (caution) 79
Chicago Fire: Jorge Bava, Michael Harrington, Johan Kappelhof, Joao Meira, Brandon Vincent, Dax McCarty, Juninho ©, Arturo Alvarez (Luis Solignac 79), Michael de Leeuw (Djordje Mihailovic 90+3), David Accam, Nemanja Nikolic (Brandt Bronico 85).
Shots: 6; Shots On-Goal: 4; Saves: 1; Fouls: 12; Corners: 4; Offsides: 1
Real Salt Lake: Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran, David Horst, Justin Schmidt, Chris Wingert, Sunny (Luke Mulholland HT), Kyle Beckerman ©, Jordan Allen (Ricardo Velazco 26), Albert Rusnak, Luis Silva (Chad Barrett 70), Yura Movsisyan.
Shots: 12; Shots On-Goal: 1; Saves: 2; Fouls: 14; Corners: 10; Offsides: 1