Whitecaps shut out by Eastern Conference-leading Fire

Vancouver Whitecaps players huddle together. (Darryl Dyck/CP)

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — Nemanja Nikolic scored two early goals, pushing his MLS-leading total to 16, and the Chicago Fire beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 4-0 on Saturday night to take the Eastern Conference lead.

The Fire (11-3-4) have won four straight and are 8-0-2 in their last 10. Vancouver (6-7-3) had its three-game unbeaten streak snapped.

"Yeah they’re a good team," said Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson.

"They took their chances, we made some fundamental errors which you can’t do against a good team. Arguably they’re the most in-form team at the moment and you can see why so credit to Chicago, they deserved the three points today but we need to be better.

Arturo Alvarez added an impressive goal early on Matt Polster’s second assist, and Michael de Leeuw had an assist and his first goal for Chicago, which tied the club record of eight-straight home wins. The last time Chicago won eight straight at home it spanned two seasons.

Nikolic set the tone early with strong finishes in the 14th and 18th minutes, one of them a scorching one-timer, but Alvarez’s finish in the 25th minute was even more impressive. Polster sent a cross that Alvarez volleyed out of the air with his left foot for his second goal of the season.

"Once the first goal goes in the dynamic of the game changes and part of our game plan was to stay in the game, the longer it goes we feel we could hurt them. We did have chances but we couldn’t take any," said Robinson.

The Whitecaps finished the match with 10 men after Matias Laba was shown a red card in the 78th minute.

"If it’s a red card it’s a red card, no complaints but disappointing because at 3-0 down it’s always hard," said Robinson. "The easy thing to do is make a silly challenge."

Matt Lampson made three saves for his sixth shutout, improving to 8-0-2 this season.

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