CHICAGO FIRE 3
Nikolic 15, 75; Accam 57
COLORADO RAPIDS 0
I think we need to take just a moment here, right now, and take a little inventory - it’s a Wednesday night in middle America, hotter than it probably should be, the wind howling as a Canadian front tries to barge its way south, the Weird tickling up invisibly off the horizon, just piling up in great tracts of Weird, waiting to pull its osmosis trick and infect the world that used to be so normal: There’s chemtrails killing us, or sekrit vaccine poisons, or the gay agenda, or end-stage capitalism, or … or all of them, none of them, maybe some of them?
Everything’s so Weird, all the time, that it’s impossible to keep up; the Weird curve is turning, turning, even as you sprint Weird-ward, through a space where you can hear nothing but B-sides by the Sugarcubes. If you listen closely, all the lyrics have been changed to chant a single phrase, which (now that you look about you) is written all about the walls, in every language that has been or will be:
The Chicago Fire are a good football team.
I know. I know! It’s so weird. But it’s true. This evening’s 3-0 victory over Colorado in Bridgeview had all the competitive balance of a mob hit, and it was wonderful. Nemanja Nikolic scored another brace, bringing his MLS-leading goal total to 10. David Accam got the other goal, his fifth. The game was 2-0 before the visitors managed a shot on goal. This was, I am delighted to report, a thorough bit of domination from a Fire side that seems to be moving from strength to strength.
Velko Paunovic had the Men in Red prepared to control the match from the start, and the Rapids played into that idea by starting in a deep, compact system that allowed Chicago plenty of time on the ball. Brandon Vincent took advantage of that time in the 15th to curl in a cross that cut out two defenders and dropped directly into Nikolic’s run. The Golden Boot leader made no mistake, banging home a simple header with USA stalwart Tim Howard stranded: 1-0, Fire.
Howard made a triple save in the 33rd that kept the game at 1-0 until halftime. After intermission, though, the Chicago game plan of playing canny possession football really started to drag Colorado around the pitch. Have I mentioned this is weird? The Fire don’t make triangles and keep the ball for five minutes straight. They don’t! They haven’t for years! What is this?
It was 2-0 once Matt Polster broke the pattern in the 57th. A long Chicago possession finally swung over to the third-year man on the right flank, and he took off on a diagonal run into the area, combining twice before giving to Michael de Leeuw to finish. The Dutchman couldn’t get his feet quite sorted, though, and the chance ran to Accam who roofed it from 13 yards in impressive fashion: 2-0, Fire.
The third may have been the best of the bunch, with de Leeuw atoning for his previous miss with a balletic bit of play worthy of the great Dennis Bergkamp. Seeing the Rapids overextended, de Leeuw darted forward and won a goal kick with a clever toe-poke into space. Suddenly unleashed behind the Colorado defense - and sensing the speed with which the Rapids were recovering - the former Groningen man devised a brilliant solution, sliding an inch-perfect cross to the back-post for the goal-crashing Nikolic to bang home: 3-0, Fire.
The remainder of the game played out as a 20-minute victory lap, with Accam, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Luis Solignac granted a chance to rest.
Have I mentioned how weird this is? Seriously, how many times have the Fire controlled a game like this since Blanco? How high is up?
The Fire (5-3-3) try to bring their home mojo on the road when they visit DC United Saturday. Colorado (2-7-1) visits Philadelphia later that evening.