Fire ease past winless Colorado

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Aleksandar Katai tries for goal during Saturday’s game. | Chicago Fire Soccer Club

The Fire had another chance to beat a struggling team at home Saturday against the Rapids. And because their next three games are on the road, getting a victory was especially important.

They did.

Nemanja Nikolic, C.J. Sapong, Djordje Mihailovic and Aleksandar Katai scored, and Nicolas Gaitan had two assists in the Fire’s 4-1 victory against the winless Rapids at SeatGeek Stadium. The Fire (2-2-3) have earned points in four consecutive games and enter a difficult part of their schedule with some momentum.

‘‘It doesn’t really matter who [we’re] getting the three points against,’’ Gaitan said through a translator. ‘‘The objective is always to get three points every single game. It really shouldn’t matter to us who we’re playing. We’re going to keep on looking at it that way.’’

The Fire’s next three games are at New York City FC (Wednesday), at Montreal (next Sunday) and at Los Angeles FC (May 4). Those games figure to be challenging for the Fire, who have less of a cushion than they’d like because of home draws against Orlando City and Vancouver earlier in the season.

‘‘Three points is three points,’’ Sapong said. ‘‘At the end of the day, we felt like we left a lot of points on the table [earlier in the season]. So to secure the full three points, we feel very good about that. We’re going to definitely carry it on to the next performance.’’

The Fire had their best offensive game of the season, and they did it in part because of Gaitan’s most influential outing with them.


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The Fire took a 1-0 lead when Nikolic met a bending cross from Gaitan and headed the ball past Rapids goalie Tim Howard in the 34th minute. After the Rapids’ Kei Kamara tied the score in the 40th, Sapong restored the Fire’s lead when he directed a low cross from Katai into the net in the 53rd.

Mihailovic gave the Fire a 3-1 lead when he drove the ball into the net after a nice connection among him, Sapong and Gaitan in the 61st. Katai finished the scoring when his drive from outside the 18-yard box beat Howard in the 80th.

‘‘We were looking for a game like this,’’ coach Veljko Paunovic said.

Gaitan’s emergence was a welcome development for the Fire, who had been waiting for him to make this kind of impact.

‘‘It was a matter of getting to know everybody a little better,’’ Gaitan said. ‘‘I think that makes everything a whole lot easier. It was a very necessary three points that we just got, especially in light of the three road games that we have ahead of ourselves.’’

NOTE: As part of a doubleheader at SeatGeek Stadium, the Red Stars tied the Portland Thorns 4-4 in National Women’s Soccer League play. Yuki Nagasato scored two goals for the Red Stars, the second of which tied the score in the 90th minute.

Thorns star Christine Sinclair had a hat trick, including what looked like the game-winning penalty in the 87th minute.

Sam Kerr and Michele Vasconcelos also scored for the Red Stars.

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“By a mile, what we’ve done off the field [is what I’ll be most proud of,]” Rapinoe said. “That has made a lasting impact.”