Nikolic fuels Fire to shutout win over Revolution

The Chicago Fire's search for a legitimate center forward appears to be over.

Nemanja Nikolic scored twice in Saturday afternoon's 3-0 home victory against 10-man New England Revolution to give him 4 goals in six games for the new and improved Fire.

"It's great," second-year left back Brandon Vincent said of the 29-year-old Nikolic. "He gets a couple of chances a game to put one or two away, that's all we can ask. He's doing a good job."

Signed from Legia Warsaw in Poland in the off-season as a designated player, Nikolic looks like a shrewd acquisition so far. He's already a big improvement on last year's big-money forward Gilberto, who left the team in the middle of the season without scoring a goal.

"I'm here just three months. It's my sixth game here in MLS," Nikolic said. "But I watch a lot of games. I try to make a lot of information to see our opponents. The staff helps me a lot. Not just me, they give all our players a lot of information about our opponents before the games, during the week when we make the practice. It's helped me a lot."

Just as important as Nikolic showing he can score was the team showing it can put a wounded opponent out of its misery. Nikolic's goals in the 47th and 73rd minutes gave the Fire breathing room it usually doesn't enjoy.

"It made the game a lot easier, that's for sure," Vincent said. "Once you get up a couple of goals, it opens things up, they don't want to work as hard and you're around the ball a lot more. So it was great."

New England put itself in a bind when it went down to 10 players in the 27th minute; defender Je-Vaughn Watson earned his second yellow card of the game and was sent to the locker room. Fire midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger finally broke through with a 45th-minute goal.

The victory wrapped up a three-game, 7-point homestand for the Fire (3-1-2, 11 points).

"It's huge," said Vincent, whose defensive teammates earned a second consecutive shutout. "Getting these early points in the season is a big goal for the team, and it just builds confidence going into the road trip where we've just got to fight and get results."

Having shown it can win at home, the Fire will find out if it can earn points away from Bridgeview with a difficult road trip to Toronto, New York Red Bulls and Los Angeles.

"Game by game we play better and better," Nikolic said. "And we have our identity now."

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