Chicago Fire Clinch First Playoff Spot Since 2012 on Record Setting Night in San Jose

The Chicago Fire returned to form against the San Jose Earthquakes on a record breaking Wednesday night in the west. On a night where another Chicago team clinched their playoff berths, the Men In Red put in a top drawer performance to earn their first since 2012. In a night and day performance from the weekend, the Fire rebounded and passed their way through the Quakes. The 4-1 Chicago victory featured a record setting goal, a first career goal and a 300th career performance. All done without team leaders Bastian Schweinsteiger, David Accam and first choice goalkeeper Matt Lampson.

Chicago Fire Clinch First Playoff Spot Since 2012 on Record Setting Night in San Jose

The Fire have now attained their season’s goal they set in preseason to “achieve the playoffs.” Second year head coach Veljko Paunovic managed to get a winning performance from his players on Wednesday to earn it. The Fire passed and moved like they hadn’t in months. Players connected purposeful passes and showed well for the ball.

“Just a tremendous performance by our guys tonight,” said Paunovic after the game. “By far not only our best performance on the road, but one of our best performances of the season, so it’s a great feeling to make the playoffs on our own accord and not with other teams helping us out. It’s a great feeling.”

The Men In Red’s boss will have to learn how to keep that level of play high against NYCFC on Saturday. A game that will play a large part in reaching the vital second playoff seed and skip the one game play-in round.

Home Grown Player Shows Professional Growth

18-year-old Djordje Mihailovic made the fourth start of his professional career and stamped his name on the scoresheet Wednesday night. The youngster had previously appeared outmuscled and was regularly pressured off the ball. Wednesday night was different. Besides netting the opening goal and assisting the Fire’s second, the young midfielder showed greater poise and control of the game against the Quakes. The Homegrown player paired well with Dax McCarty during his landmark 300th MLS appearance. Mihailovic was provided more space on the night than in his previous appearances. The player linked up well with in-form veteran Arturo Alvarez for his first tally. The space was due in no small part to his partnership with McCarty and the overall great movement from the team. In the night he scored his first MLS goal, the local Chicago product displayed real growth.

20 Goals and Counting

Nemanja Nikolic is the new single season scoring record holder for the Chicago Fire. The Hungarian international scored his 19th and 20th goals Wednesday to put himself beyond the 18 from Ante Razov during the 2000 season. Nikolic’s 20-goal tally puts him tied for the Golden Boot lead with Portland Timbers Diego Valeri and just one ahead of David Villa and two ahead of Josef Martinez.

I am really proud that I am a record-holder of this club,” Nikolic said. “This is my first year. 20 goals in my first year and three games more, it’s not bad. This pushes me to work harder.”

Nikolic now holds the Fire scoring record all to himself but the Golden Boot will be an exciting battle with all the leaders currently in top form. Villa versus Nikolic will be a big storyline to watch for come Saturday.

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