BRIDGEVIEW, IL—The difference between the Chicago Fire last season this season is like the difference between night and day even though we’re just six matches in. The Fire comprehensively defeated ten-man New England, 3-0, to get their first winning streak in league play in two years.
New England became a man down after 27 minutes after Je-Vaughn Watson picked up two quick yellows for two rash challenges on Luis Solignac in six minutes.
From there, it was all Chicago Fire. It was only a matter of time before the Fire struck and they did just before halftime after Bastian Schweinsteiger slotted past Cody Cropper far post for the opening score off an assist from Solignac.
Two minutes into the second half, Nemanja Nikolic poached a second after a cross from Solignac deflected off Antonio Delamea. Nikolic would add his second and the Fire’s third in the 73rd minute after collecting from David Accam in the center of the box. Nikolic now has four goals in six matches for the Fire while Schweinsteiger has two in three.
“I think that was one of the best games we had here (at home),” said Fire head coach Veljko Paunovic. “I think we managed the game very well. It was important to step up for our team in terms that we compete very well. Actually, both yellows were [the result of]very smart plays by the team and it’s not just unlucky action [from Watson].
“From there, I think the team was patient and was working hard to switch sides which is one of the things that we have to do well when you’re playing against ten men in order to break them down because they close and come together and become tighter and it’s difficult to play if you don’t perform well if you’re not accurate in your passing and in your buildup. The goals are just the product of smart, tactical shape of the team.”
Man of the match Nikolic senses the team getting better and better and finding their identity over these past three matches.
“The most important thing is the team played good,” said Nikolic. “Game by game we are getting better and better. We have our identity now. Everybody so badly wants to play. Of course, the atmosphere in the team is good. The players behind me are in good form so for me it’s also easier.
“The important thing is that in these three games that we played, at home we got seven points. And now, we have three very difficult games away. So we have to prepare for this.”
The first of those three away matches is Friday at Toronto FC. Kickoff is at 6:30pm CT on CSN+.
CHI-Bastian Schweinsteiger (Solignac) 45
CHI-Nemanja Nikolic (unassisted) 47
CHI-Nemanja Nikolic (Accam, Schweinsteiger) 73
NE-Je-Vaughn Watson (caution, reckless foul) 21
NE-Je-Vaughn Watson (caution, reckless tackle) 27
NE-Je-Vaughn Watson (sent off, second bookable offense) 27
CHI-Johan Kappelhof (caution, reckless tackle) 77
CHICAGO FIRE (4-3-3): #1-Jorge Bava; #5-Michael Harrington (#18-Drew Conner 78), #4-Johan Kappelhof, #66-Joao Meira, #3-Brandon Vincent; #19-Juninho (C), #31-Bastian Schweinsteiger, #6-Dax McCarty; #9-Luis Solignac (#11-David Accam 71), #23-Nemanja Nikolic, #8-Michael de Leeuw (#20-Daniel Johnson 60)
Subs not used: #28-Matt Lampson, #16-Jonathan Campbell, #2-Matt Polster, #12-Arturo Alvarez
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (4-4-2): #1-Cody Cropper; #2-Andrew Farrell, #27-Joshua Smith, #19-Antonio Mlinar Delamea, #11-Kelyn Rowe; #6-Scott Caldwell, #12-Xavier Kouassi, #24-Lee Nguyen (C)(#14-Diego Fagundez 52), #15-Je-Vaughn Watson; #17-Juan Agudelo (#8-Chris Tierney 57), #23-Kei Kamara (#10-Teal Bunbury 66)
Subs not used: #18-Brad Knighton, #8-Chris Tierney, #4-Benjamin Angoua, #16-Daigo Kobayashi, #88-Femi Hollinger-Janzen
TOTAL SHOTS: CHI 11-4 NE
SHOTS ON GOAL: CHI 3-1 NE
FOULS: CHI 10-8 NE
OFFSIDES: CHI 2-0 NE
CORNER KICKS: CHI 8-4 NE
SAVES: CHI 1-0 NE
Referee: Ted Unkel
Referee’s Assistants: Adam Wienckowski, Eduardo Mariscal
4th Official: Fotis Bazakos
Weather: Partly Cloudy and 81º
Man of the Match: Nemanja Nikolic (CHI)