BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — While the big Chicago Fire news of the day involved the team’s move out of Bridgeview getting closer, the Fire won in a rout at SeatGeek Stadium on Wednesday.
Nemanja Nikolić had two goals in the first half of a 5-0 win against the New England Revolution. The Fire were dominant throughout the match, controlling possession in the first half and scoring on the counter in the second half.
“We really needed to play and perform in this day when actually everyone was focused on something else,” Fire coach Veljko Paunović said. “We were capable of refocusing our guys.”
Nikolić failed to convert on two breakaways a few minutes apart in the first 20 minutes of the match. He redeemed himself with a pair of headers on set pieces.
He was at the back post for both goals. First, a free kick from Nicolás Gaitán found Nikolić on the back door for an easy finish.
The second goal was similar on the finish. This time it was a Gaitán corner that was redirected by Bastian Schweinsteiger to Nikolić.
Brandt Bronico, who entered as a sub, celebrated a newly minted contract with a curling effort in the 79th minute. Before the match, the Fire announced that Bronico got a new contract that gave him a higher salary for 2019 and guaranteed him for the 2020 season.
May 8, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Fire midfielder Brandt Bronico (13) reacts with fans after the game against the New England Revolution at SeatGeek Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
“I’m just happy to be here and obviously a great day, not only for me, but for the team as well,” Bronico said. “Five goals gives us huge confidence going into the weekend.”
Gaitán and Przemysław Frankowski later added goals in the final minutes to finish off the rout. It was the first Fire goal for both players.
New England fell to 2-8-2 (8 points), dead last in the Eastern Conference with the loss. The Revolution have conceded 18 goals in the past four matches.
Coach Brad Friedel said his team is “making up ways to concede goals.”
“The first person that I look at after every single game is myself,” Friedel said. “It’d be silly if I didn’t. As a staff, we always talk about what we can do to help the players because that’s what we’re here for. Lately, we haven’t been doing a good enough job of that. Likewise, the players haven’t been doing a good enough job of that. I’m sure if you speak to any of the players, they’ll all say the same thing.”