CHICAGO (Nov. 7, 2017) – The Chicago Fire Soccer Club announced its annual award winners on Tuesday, naming Nemanja Nikolic Most Valuable Player and Golden Boot winner, and defender Johan Kappelhof as Defensive Player of the Year.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER/GOLDEN BOOT: Forward Nemanja Nikolic was named the Chicago Fire Most Valuable Player in his first season with the Men in Red. The only Fire player to appear in all 34 regular season matches, Nikolic scored a league-high 24 goals, breaking a club record of 18 goals set in 2000 by Ante Razov. Nikolic led the league with six multi-goal games, with five of his strikes being game-winners. In addition to his goals, the Hungarian international tallied four assists in league play. He is among five finalists for the Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player and is one of three finalists for the MLS Newcomer of the Year. The Newcomer of the Year will be announced on Nov. 20 and MVP on Dec. 4.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Defender Johan Kappelhof has been named Defensive Player of the Year for the second consecutive season. Kappelhof started all 33 matches in which he appeared, and was second on the team in minutes played with 2,881. The Dutch defender made a team-high 139 clearances and 96 interceptions, good for second in the league, and was second on the team with 13 blocks. Kappelhof additionally tallied four assists, including the game-winner in a 2-1 win over FC Dallas on May 25.
Both Kappelhof and Nikolic took part in their first MLS All-Star Game playing against Real Madrid at Soldier Field on Aug. 2.