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The Fire defeated D.C. United 3-0 on Saturday September 16th, from an own goal by D.C. United player Ian Harkes, a wonder strike from Brandon Vincent and a well struck Penalty from Nemanja Nikolic. The Fire were shorthanded for the match missing mid-field engine Bastian Shweinsteiger due to injury, Michael de Leeuw due to yellow card accumulation and central defense rock Jao Meira who did make a brief appearance late in the match. Meira is working his way back from injury and will hopefully be able to return to the starting lineup against the Philadelphia Union Saturday. Even missing some of their starters the Fire were able to easily dispatch their opponent. They seemed to be again playing with an intensity and purpose that was missing during their long slump. Perhaps, it is the return of Vincent and Polster to the lineup. Goal keeper Matt Lampson mad some incredible saves in the match to preserve the shut out. The win put the Fire at a greater than 99% chance of making the playoffs for the first time since 2012, but they are going to fight for that second place spot overall. Second place would see them through to the conference semi-finals and would give them home field advantage for the home and home series of two games.

Head Coach Veljko Paunovic was very happy with the performance from the guys and the attitude in the locker room. He had this to say after the match, I think we managed the game very well. From this game, I would say yes, the Chicago Fire with the attack from today are the Chicago Fire from earlier this year. A little different approach, they had more of possession. However, we prepared for this kind of game were you have to compete and you have to know what you have to do. Obviously we did a good job and I think D.C. was a very good opponent and congrats to them to.” He was also pleased with the lack of silly mistakes on the defensive end, “I think we defended very well. I think in the past when we were falling like dominos and committing a lot of mistakes, but today that didn’t happen. Don’t concede goals and create enough opportunities so you can convert as much as you can so you can have great wins like we had today.” Nikolic tied the regular season goal scoring record of Fire great Ante Razov with 18. With still 6 games remaining it is a safe bet to say that record will be broken. Paunovic had high praise for Nikolic saying, “I always like to highlight the teamwork which he does, obviously added how important the goals are from everyone. In the case of Niko, I’ve said many times in the past, I’m a very happy person for him that he scores. But if these goals aren’t scored in order to help the team and just Fire seeking individual performance that I wouldn’t be as happy about it.” It will take the whole team if they are to hoist the MLS Cup in December. It will take an intensity and winner take all mentality, but just maybe the Fire has put together a group of guys who can add a bit of bling to celebrate their 20th season as an MLS Club.

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