Chicago Fire stays hot at home
Everything seems to be going the Chicago Fire's way at Toyota Park.
Away from Toyota Park remains a different story, but just that anything is going the Fire's way anywhere is new.
The revitalized Fire remained undefeated at home with a 3-0 victory Wednesday night against the struggling Colorado Rapids.
"Undefeated and I think playing developing, good soccer here at home, and I think the mentality is great," Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said.
In years past this would have been looked on as a trap game. Fatalistic fans would have wondered how the Fire would drop points to the team with the worst record in MLS.
Not this season.
This year the Fire is taking care of business at home, where it is 5-0-1. The victory lifted the Fire to 5-3-3 on the season for 18 points. And the team made sure of this win, leaving nothing to chance with a pair of second-half goals against a strong wind to secure the 3 points.
"I loved the attitude in the locker room," Paunovic said. "When I asked them what we need, they said, next game. We want to win next game. And that's the attitude that we were looking for for a long time.
"The guys are confident. The guys are really happy and enjoying playing soccer and winning games."
That wasn't the case last year, when the team finished with 31 points and last in MLS for a second consecutive season.
"We're playing well at home," central defender Johan Kappelhof said. "We've always got a feeling like we can win from everybody at home."
These are the kind of results that could earn the Fire its first playoff berth since 2012, especially if it can start winning on the road. The Fire is 0-3-2 away from Toyota Park heading into Saturday afternoon's match at D.C. United.
"We have to take this great feeling we have the last couple of games to D.C. United and we have to prove to ourselves that we can do it away as well," Kappelhof said.
Nemanja Nikolic became the fastest Fire player to score in double digits in club history when he scored his 10th goal in his 11th game, on an assist from Michael de Leeuw in the 74th minute. Nikolic also had the first goal of the game, a header off a cross from left back Brandon Vincent.
David Accam also scored, in the 57th minute, a goal that secured a victory the Fire needed to have to prove it's for real. At home, at least.
"Now we have to keep it up," Paunovic said.