BRIDGEVIEW, IL – Vancouver Whitecaps FC (6W-7L-3D) were the latest victim of the red-hot Chicago Fire (11W-3L-4D) on Saturday, falling 4-0 in a Canada Day clash at Toyota Park.
MLS Golden Boot leader Nemanja Nikolic led the way with two goals and an assist on a night that saw the Fire move into the top spot in the MLS standings thanks to their second straight 4-0 victory – a result that also extended Chicago’s unbeaten run to 10 matches in league play.
It was a night to forget for Vancouver, who were reduced to 10 men late in the match after Matias Laba was shown a straight red card.
Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson made a pair of changes to his starting lineup after last weekend’s 2-2 draw in Minnesota, inserting Christian Bolaños and Bernie Ibini in place of Alphonso Davies (international duty) and Fredy Montero. Bolaños, who missed two matches with a shoulder sprain, slotted in next to Tony Tchani in midfield as Robinson returned to a 4-1-4-1 formation, while Ibini was deployed as a lone striker in his first start for the club.
And the ‘Caps actually looked quite confident in the early going, pressing high up the pitch to nullify Bastian Schweinsteiger’s ability to play out of the back.
They created a couple early chances, too.
In the second minute, Cristian Techera whipped in a dangerous free kick that just eluded a sliding Tim Parker in the box. And then a few minutes later, Bolaños hit the post on a heavy strike from distance after some fancy footwork in midfield.
The misses proved costly.
Chicago opened the scoring in the 14th minute when Nikolic banged in a nice cutback from fullback Matt Polster – and they did not look back from there. Nikolic added a second in the 18th minute, finishing from the top of the box after a ‘Caps turnover in midfield. And finally, Chicago made it 3-0 in the 25th minute with a well-taken volley from Arturo Alvarez at the back post.
The action didn’t stop there. Both goalkeepers were forced into some big saves after the break, including a key stop from Matt Lampson on a Montero header in the 52nd minute and a diving David Ousted stop on a long-range free kick from Juninho in the 59th minute.
Ultimately, after Laba was sent off for a hard tackle in the 78th minute, Chicago would add a fourth goal through Michael de Leeuw, who finished calmly after a one-two with Nikolic.
And that would be all she wrote.
Next up for Whitecaps FC is a midweek tilt with David Villa’s New York City FC on Wednesday night at BC Place (7 p.m. PT on TSN )
NEWS AND NOTES
- Peruvian attacking midfielder Yordy Reyna made his MLS regular season debut for Whitecaps FC on Saturday, playing the final 28 minutes.
- Sam Adekugbe, Alphonso Davies, Marcel de Jong, and Russell Teibert are currently in Alliston, Ontario for Canada’s pre-tournament camp ahead of the Gold Cup. Canada opens the tournament next Friday, July 7 vs. French Guinea (4 p.m. PT on TSN).
- Whitecaps FC centre back Kendall Waston (left hip strain, right hand fracture) trained in full on Friday in Chicago as he continues to work his way back to full health.