Chicago Fire 3, Philadelphia Union 2 | 2017 MLS Match Recap
In an important contest for Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs seeding, Nikolic delivered a timely hat trick to lift the Fire to a come-from-behind 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Union on Sunday at Toyota Park.
Alejandro Bedoya scored his second goal of the season to put the Union ahead 2-1 in a wild start to the game that also included a Fire own goal.
But Nikolic would not let Chicago lose, tying the game on a penalty kick and slotting home the winner in the 78th minute on a feed from Brandon Vincent to put the Fire in good position to earn a home game in the Knockout Round or even a first-round bye.
- 3' — CHI — Nemanja Nikolic WATCH
- 6' — PHI — Johan Kappelhof (OG) WATCH
- 13' — PHI — Alejandro Bedoya WATCH
- 64' — CHI — Nemanja Nikolic (PK) WATCH
- 78' — CHI — Nemanja Nikolic WATCH
A GOLDEN BOOT WRAP? Nikolic may have just taken some drama out of Decision Day with his 22nd, 23rd and 24th goals of the season to take a three-goal Golden Boot lead over Valeri and a four-goal lead over Villa. His 24 goals matches Bradley Wright-Phillips’ Golden Boot total from a year ago and even puts him in striking distance of matching the all-time MLS high of 27 goals if he can get another hat trick in next week’s regular-season finale. Personal stats aside, Nikolic’s performance on Sunday to put the Fire on his back with Bastian Schweinsteiger out and David Accam coming in off the bench must have Chicago fans giddy heading into their first playoff appearance in five years.
LET'S TALK PLAYOFFS: Thanks to their win, coupled with a New York City FC loss and an Atlanta United draw, the Fire jumped over Atlanta and into third place in the Eastern Conference. And they now sit just one point behind NYCFC for the No. 2 seed in the East, which comes with that coveted first-round bye. But with fifth-place Columbus still only two points behind them, the Fire could also still slide back into a fifth place with a loss at Houston in their regular-season finale. In other words, even though the six Eastern Conference playoff teams are already set, there's going to be a lot riding on Decision Day in terms of seeding.
RESPONDING TO WORLD CUP HEARTBREAK: Both Bedoya and Haris Medunjanin returned to the Union this week after brutal World Cup qualifying exits — Medunjanin with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Bedoya, of course, with the US national team. But even with the Union already eliminated from playoff contention, both players delivered impressive performances and teamed up for a very pretty first-half goal. There are many question marks heading into 2018 for the Union but one thing that seems certain is that the club will build around Bedoya and Medunjanin in the midfield. And those two players will be eager to improve upon a woeful 1-10-6 road record in 2017 — the Union’s worst mark in franchise history.