BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (Oct. 15, 2017) – The Chicago Fire rallied to a 3-2 win against the Philadelphia Union in their home finale on Sunday at Toyota Park.
Nemanja Nikolic scored his first career hat trick as a member of the Fire (16-10-7, 55 pts.) to help spark the comeback. Chicago trails New York City FC (16-9-8, 56 pts.) by one point for second in the Eastern Conference with one game remaining in the regular season. The Fire’s playoff seed will be determined by next weekend’s results, with Atlanta United FC (15-9-9, 54 pts.) and Columbus Crew SC (16-12-5, 53 pts.) also in the mix for the No. 2 seed.
Nikolic scored his first goal of the evening in the 3rd minute. Brandon Vincent sent a long pass that beat Philadelphia’s backline and pounced into Nikolic’s path. The Fire’s leading scorer dribbled into the box, and then slotted his shot past Union goalkeeper Andre Blake from a tight angle inside the left side of the box.
The Union scored twice soon after to take a 2-1 lead into halftime. C.J. Sapong created the first chance, whipping a shot on target from close range that Johan Kappelhof slid to block. However, the attempted clearance found its way into the net to level the match.
Alejandro Bedoya scored Philadelphia’s next goal with an assist from fellow midfielder Haris Medunjanin. Fire goalkeeper Matt Lampson tried to beat Bedoya to a bouncing ball in the box, but Bedoya was first to arrive and chipped a shot into the net.
Nikolic had two more goals left in him to propel the Fire in the second half. Just past the hour mark, David Accam won a penalty kick after Union defender Jack Elliott fouled the Ghanaian in the box. Nikolic went to the spot and drilled his shot into the right side of the net.
Vincent and Nikolic linked up one last time in the 78th minute to complete the comeback. Vincent slipped a diagonal pass from the left to the top of the box, and Nikolic tucked his shot inside the far post with a first-touch effort. Vincent’s helper gave him his first career multi-assist game as a professional.
Nikolic’s trio of goals gives him 24 in 2017, three more than the next-closest in the Golden Boot race with one game remaining.
Sunday’s result was the Fire’s 12th home win of the regular season, the most since recording 13 in 2000. Chicago’s 16 wins overall are the most for the club since notching 17 in 2012.
The Fire close their MLS regular season campaign against the Houston Dynamo on Sunday, Oct. 22 at BBVA Compass Stadium. Kickoff is 3 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Chicago Plus and Univision Deportes 1200AM.
MLS Regular Season
Chicago Fire (16-10-7, 55 points) 3:2 Philadelphia Union (10-14-9, 39 points)
Oct. 15, 2017 – Toyota Park
CHI – Nemanja Nikolic (Brandon Vincent) 3’
PHI – Johan Kappelhof (own goal) 6’
PHI – Alejandro Bedoya (Haris Medunjanin) 13’
CHI – Nemanja Nikolic (penalty kick) 64’
CHI – Nemanja Nikolic (Brandon Vincent, David Accam) 78’
CHI – Matt Polster (caution) 45+1’
Chicago Fire: Matt Lampson; Matt Polster, Johan Kappelhof, Joao Meira, Brandon Vincent; Dax McCarty ©, Drew Conner (David Accam HT); Arturo Alvarez, Djordje Mihailovic, Luis Solignac; Nemanja Nikolic (David Arshakyan 90+1’).
Subs not used: Richard Sanchez, Michael Harrington, Jonathan Campbell, Patrick Doody, Brandt Bronico.
Shots: 10; Shots On-Goal: 4; Saves: 1; Fouls: 10; Corners: 5; Offsides: 1
Philadelphia Union: Andre Blake; Raymon Gaddis, Jack Elliott (Jay Simpson 90’), Richie Marquez, Fabinho; Alejandro Bedoya ©, Haris Medunjanin; Chris Pontius (Marcus Epps 75’), Ilsinho, Fabrice-Jean Picault (Roland Alberg 83’); C.J. Sapong.
Subs not used: John McCarthy, Oguchi Onyewu, Keegan Rosenberry, Derrick Jones.
Shots: 8; Shots On-Goal: 2; Saves: 1; Fouls: 12; Corners: 3; Offsides: 0