Shaqiri shines as Chicago Fire torch Vancouver Whitecaps for 3-1 win

·3 min read

VANCOUVER — Xherdan Shaqiri had a goal and an assist Saturday, lifting the surging Chicago Fire to a 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps at B.C. Place Stadium.

Chris Mueller and Rafael Czichos also scored for Chicago (7-10-5), which extended its Major League Soccer win streak to three games.

Lucas Cavallini had the lone goal for a Whitecaps (7-10-5) side that remains three points below the playoff bar in MLS's Western Conference.

Twenty-year-old Canadian goalkeeper Isaac Boehmer made his second straight start for Vancouver and registered one save. Chicago's Gabriel Slonina stopped two of three on-target shots.

The Fire took control of the game early and dominated 60.9 per cent of the possession. The visitors also outshot the 'Caps 16-8, and 4-3 in on-target shots.

Chicago sealed the deal at 3-1 in the 90th minute when Mueller placed a right-footed shot in the top-right corner of the Vancouver net. Shaqiri registered an assist on the play.

The Fire broke a 1-1 stalement in the 76th minute when Mueller delivered a ball deep into the Vancouver box and Czichos rose about the Vancouver defenders to put a header in past Boehmer with his third goal of the season.

Gauld nearly gave the home side a lead a minute earlier, splitting the Chicago defence at the top of the box and sprinting in. Slonina came far out of the net to smother the ensuing shot.

Vancouver scored the equalizer in the 54th minute following a solid passing sequence.

Marcus Godinho collected a ball along the sideline and sent it into Gauld at the top of the box. The Scottish attacking midfielder got a quick touch off to Cavallini down low who jumped up and sent a left-footed shot past the Chicago 'keeper to make it 1-1.

The goal was Cavallini's seventh of the season, marking the most he's scored in his third MLS season.

The first half was an ugly one for the 'Caps, who struggled to hang on to the ball and saw their defence repeatedly dismantled by the visitors.

The home side came close in first half injury time when Pedro Vite sent a cross in to Cavallini directly in front of the Fire net as the Canadian striker directed it on goal, only to see Slonina leap on top of the ball in a diving stop.

Chicago nearly took a 2-0 advantage in the 38th minute following another defensive breakdown that allowed Brian Gutierrez a chance to get a good shot off. The ball ricocheted off the post and hit Vancouver's Godinho in the midsection before bouncing just wide of the net.

The Fire opened the scoring in the 13th minute after Navarro fed Shaqiri at the top of the box and the Swiss international sent a low shot rolling past Boehmer's outstretched fingers.

It was Shaqiri's team-leading fourth goal of the season. He also has eight assists on the year.

Vancouver came within inches of an early goal when Julian Gressel sent a ball soaring into Cristian Dajome inside the Chicago box. Dajome unleashed a blast but his shot rang off the post.

Gressel was making his debut for the 'Caps after being acquired from D.C. United last week. He played 45 minutes and was replaced by Gauld to start the second half.

The Whitecaps will be back in action on Tuesday when they host Toronto FC in the Canadian Championship final. Vancouver will return to MLS action next Saturday when they visit Nashville SC.

FOOTNOTES: Boehmer made his first start at B.C. Place. … An announced crowd of 14,984 took in Vancouver's ninth annual Pride match. … Saturday marked the Whitecaps' first loss in a Pride match. The club has a 7-1-1 record when hosting the occasion, going back to 2013.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 23, 2022.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting