Joel Embiid Should be Considered an MVP Candidate
It is only January and a lot of people are talking about either James Harden or Giannis Antetokounmpo to win the MVP, but what about Joel Embiid?
The Chicago Fire Soccer Club is unbeaten in seven games across all competitions, with 4 wins and three draws. They beat the Columbus Crew and Atlanta on the road in The US Open Cup to make it to the Quarter Finals. Nemanja Nikolic has scored three goals in the Open Cup to secure those victories.
The streak began with a 2-1 home victory over the San Jose Earthquakes. Alan Gordon opened the scoring in the 29th minute, Johan Kapplehoff got the ball to Luis Solignac out wide who sent in a cross Gordon sent a snap header into the goal. Aleksander Katai scored the game winning goal in the 49th minute when Brandt Bronico slipped a ball through for Katai who finished with a right footed shot to the far post. Katai now holds a new Chicago Fire Record with eight straight games with a goal or assist
The Fire then got a win just four days later in a must win Open Cup game over the Columbus Crew. Nemanja Nikolic scored both goals in the match. Columbus opened the scoring in the 10th minute., but the Fire equalized just before the half when Daniel Johnson collected the ball and passed it to Rafael Ramos who slotted a good ball to Nikolic who finished it.
The two teams were tied 1-1 at the end of regulation so the match went to 30 minutes of extra time. Nikolic put the Fire ahead in the 109th minute but the Crew then equalized again the 114th minute. Still tied up at the end of extra time the match went to the dreaded penalty kick shootout. The Fire prevailed 11-10 in the shootout, Richard Sanchez saved two shots including the shot by his opposing Keeper. He converted his penalty as well. Ironically the only Fire player to miss their kick was goal scorer Nemanja Nikolic.
That victory was then followed by three consecutive draws in league play. The first a 1-1 tie with the New England Revolution at home then a 2-2 draw with Colorado on the road. The third another 1-1 draw with Seattle on the road.
Sandwiched in between the draws was a 1-0 victory over Atlanta United in the Open Cup on the road in Atlanta. Nemanja Nikolic scoring the winning goal assisted by Luis Solignac and Bastian Schweinsteiger. The Fire now host United Soccer League Side Louisville City FC on July 18th at Toyota Park. A win in that game will put the Fire just two games from winning a fifth Open Cup title.
The Fire came from behind to beat New York City FC 3-2 for the first time this season. Nikolic scored his 7th goal of the season in the 6th minute with Dax McCarty providing the assist. But New York equalized in the 36th minute and then went ahead in the 40th minute. Aleksander Katai scored two goals in the 47th and 52nd minute to seal the victory for the Fire.
Last season the Fire found their spark after a big victory which lead them to a turnaround season where they finished third overall. Perhaps this game will be remembered as the game that turned the season around and lead them to the playoffs again.
The Fire now go on the road to face Western Conference opponent the Vancouver Whitecaps. The White Caps have lost their last two matches at home. Can the Fire ride their momentum to victory in this match for their first back to back victories of the season?