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Chicago Fire Dominates the Colorado Rapids in 4-1 Win

April 20, 2019 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Chicago Fire News Release

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. - The Chicago Fire Soccer Club (2-2-3, 9 points) recorded a strong 4-1 win over the Colorado Rapids (0-6-2, 2 points) at SeatGeek Stadium on Saturday afternoon, extending its unbeaten run to four games. Four different players scored in the win for the Men in Red, including forward Nemanja Nikolic and midfielders Aleksandar Katai, Djordje Mihailovic and CJ Sapong.

Additionally, midfielder Nicolás Gaitán, who made his second consecutive start in the match, tallied his first two assists in MLS play, setting up Nikolic and Mihailovic for close-range finishes in the second half. The Fire also received assists from Katai, Sapong and team captain Dax McCarty, as the team routed the Rapids in its largest margin of victory in 2019.

With the 4-1 result, the Fire extended its all-time regular season record against the Rapids to 20-14-10, including a 17-4-2 mark at SeatGeek Stadium.

The Fire's first chance of the match came from a piercing through ball from Gaitán in the 15th minute of play. Receiving the ball in space in the attacking third, Gaitán played a diagonal through ball in behind the Rapids defense for Sapong, who attempted to find Nikolic with a cross inside the six-yard box but narrowly missed the striker.

With the game approaching the 30th minute mark, Katai nearly provided the game's opening goal after cutting past a defender and firing a strong effort off the crossbar from inside the 18-yard box (WATCH).

Continuing to put the Rapids under pressure, the Men in Red eventually broke through in the 34th minute when Gaitán curled a perfectly placed left-footed cross to the edge of the six-yard box for Nikolic, who carefully nodded the ball into the back of the net to tally his third goal of the season. The finish marked Nikolic's third straight match with a goal (WATCH).

One minute later, with the Fire on the front foot, Katai came close to doubling the team's lead through a counter attacking play on the left wing. Cutting in on his right foot, Katai curled a high and powerful effort that sailed just wide of the top corner (WATCH).

With five minutes remaining in the first half, Colorado managed to level the score off a corner kick when forward Kei Kamara's header deflected into the goal.

After a tightly contested first half, the Fire jumped out to a strong start in the final 45 minutes by scoring twice in an eight-minute span. The Men in Red's second goal of the game stemmed from winning possession of the ball near the center circle. McCarty then sprayed the ball wide to Katai who sprinted into the box and played the ball across the face of the goal. Attacking Katai's pass, Sapong slid and converted from close range to regain the lead and notch his team-leading fourth goal of the season (WATCH).

Shortly after Sapong's finish, the Fire doubled its lead when a sublime build-up play led to Mihailovic's first goal of the season in the 61st minute. The sequence started with Sapong clipping a pass inside the 18-yard box for Gaitán, who played a no-look pass back across the goal to create a comfortable tap-in for Mihailovic (WATCH).

With just over 10 minutes remaining in the game, Katai provided the final goal with a superb effort from distance. After receiving a driven ball from midfielder Mo Adams, Katai drifted inside and curled a powerful effort into the far corner from just outside the 18-yard box, notching his first goal of the 2019 campaign (WATCH).

Next up, the Fire will begin a three-game road swing when the team travels to face New York City FC at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, April 24. Beginning at 6:00 p.m. CT, the match against NYCFC will be broadcast live on ESPN+ and transmitted locally on Univision Radio WRTO AM 1200.

Match notes:

Nikolic scored for a third straight game in Saturday's match, scoring the opening goal to post his third of the season. The striker's 42 regular season goals rank as the third-most in Club history, dating back to 1998.

Sapong scored his team-leading fourth goal of the season. He also posted his second assist of the season.

Mihailovic tallied his first goal of the season and the third of his MLS career.

Katai notched his first goal of the 2019 season.

McCarty posted his first assist of the season. On Friday morning, McCarty and wife Jennifer announced the arrival of their newborn son, Callum Jerry McCarty (article).

Gaitán tallied two assists in the 4-1 win, marking his first pair of assists with the Chicago Fire.

With the win, the Fire are unbeaten in its last four matches in league play.

Since 1998, the Fire have posted a 20-14-10 record against the Rapids, including a 17-4-2 mark at home.

The four goals scored against Colorado ranks as a team-high in 2019.

Box Score:

Chicago Fire 4:1 Colorado Rapids

Scoring Summary:

CHI - Nikolic (3) (Gaitán) 34'

COL - Kamara (5) 40'

CHI - Sapong (4) (Katai, McCarty) 53'

CHI - Mihailovic (1) (Gaitán, Sapong) 61'

CHI - Katai (1) 80'

Misconduct Summary:

COL - Rubio (Caution) 31'

CHI - Adams (Caution) 84'

COL - Price (Ejection) 86'

Chicago Fire: GKOusted, D Kappelhof, D Marcelo, D Schweinsteiger, D Gutjahr, M McCarty ©, M Mihailovic (Adams 62'), M Katai, M Gaitán, M Sapong (Moreno 84'), F Nikolic (Bronico 76')

Subs not used: Sánchez, Campos, Lillard, Martinez

Shots: 13 Shots on goal: 5 Fouls Committed: 8 Fouls Suffered: 14 Offsides: 0 Corners: 5

Colorado Rapids: GKHoward ©, D Rosenberry, D Opare, D Smith, D Vines, M Feilhaber, M Price, M Acosta (Nicholson 46'), M Mezquida (Serna 65'), F Rubio (Bassett 90'), F Kamara

Subs not used: GK Irwin, D Sjoberg, D Anderson, F Shinyashiki

Shots: 9 Shots on goal: 2 Fouls Committed: 14 Fouls Suffered: 8 Offsides: 2 Corners: 1

Referee: Dave Gantar

Assistant Referees: Apolinar Mariscal, Chris Wattam

Fourth Official: Tim Ford

VAR: Kevin Terry Jr

Attendance: 12,967

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