Nikolic, Chicago Fire keep the ball rolling
At some point Nemanja Nikolic is going to have to cool off. The laws of physics demand it.
For now, though, the Hungarian forward is hotter than a Chicago summer, and the Chicago Fire is reaping the benefits.
Nikolic scored his league-leading 11th goal of the season to start the Fire on its way to a 2-1 victory against a short-handed FC Dallas at Toyota Park on Thursday night.
It's starting to feel like this streak might never end, though, even if reality suggests otherwise.
"Hopefully, we honestly believe in that," Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said. "In Niko's streak, in David (Accam)'s streak, and we are waiting for the other guys to show up and step up in the role of decisive players."
It was the fourth consecutive victory for the Fire (7-3-3, 24 points) and leaves the Fire just 7 points shy of its 2016 total.
"I think once we got things going and once we started to figure things out as a team," right back Matt Polster said, "I don't think I'm very surprised at all, to be honest with you. I think there's a lot of quality on this side. Obviously, with the additions of (Bastian Schweinsteiger), Dax (McCarty), Juninho, Niko … we have a lot of quality, and I think that shows."
The teams got the scoring out of the way early.
Nikolic, an off-season transfer from Legia Warsaw in Poland, got the fun started in the third minute when he redirected left back Brandon Vincent's centering pass into the Dallas net.
"I think he expects to score every game," Polster said, "so, yeah, that's the expectation for everybody. We look to him to score. Everybody wants to help and chip in, and obviously Brandon has been giving him really good service. He's been on the end of those things, so it's been good all around. If we can get other guys to chip in as well and take a little pressure off him, I think he's going to score even more goals."
Dallas answered two minutes later when Roland Lamah took advantage of some sloppy play by the Fire back line, tying the score at 1-1.
The Fire didn't waste much time retaking the lead. David Accam's 20-yard shot was deflected on its way past goalkeeper Chris Seitz and in.
Nikolic almost had a second goal, but his penalty kick in second-half added time was saved by Seitz.
It helped the Fire that FC Dallas coach Oscar Pareja opted to rest some of his best players. Kellyn Acosta, Walker Zimmerman, Maynor Figueroa and Maxi Urruti missed the match to rest for a Sunday meeting with the Houston Dynamo, and Michael Barrios played just 17 minutes as a substitute.