BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (AP) Midfielder Pavel Pardo scored on an early free kick and Chicago snapped a 221-minute scoreless streak on the way to a 1-0 victory over Vancouver on Saturday.The Fire (9-6-4, 31 points) prevailed despite playing a man short for the final 21 minutes after defender Arne Friedrich was ejected with a second yellow card.The Whitecaps (8-6-6, 30 points) suffered their second straight loss and third in a five-game road swing.Chicago was awarded a free kick in the ninth minute when Whitecaps midfielder Jun Marques Davidson tripped Fire midfielder Patrick Nyarko on a run outside the box.Pardo then lined a 23-yard kick into the right corner for his first goal of the season in the ninth minute.An apparent second-half goal - a rebound shot by Dominic Oduru in front of the net in the 54th minute - was ruled offside.Friedrich was ejected in the 69th minute and was given his second yellow card in two minutes after apparently tripping Vancouver forward Darren Mattocks.Chicago goalie Sean Johnson had four saves, including one on a shot by Lee Young-Pyo that would have tied the game.Chicago had back-to-back scoreless games and had not scored since June 29 on Marco Pappa's tally in the 58th minute of a 1-0 triumph at Sporting Kansas City.
For the past two seasons, David Accam was a bright spot on bad Chicago Fire teams.
This season, with more talent on the roster, Accam has blossomed into one of the most dangerous players in the league.
He had a hat trick and an assist in Saturday’s 4-0 win against Orlando. That gives him 10 goals and six assists on the season. Only two other players in Major League Soccer have 16 combined goals and assists, New York City FC's David Villa and teammate Nemanja Nikolic (the leading goal-scorer in the league).
“I thought I could do anything on the pitch today,” Accam said. “I just wanted to enjoy myself and entertain the fans and also help the team win. That’s what we did today, especially after my first goal. I just thought I could get more goals and also help the team win.”
Accam’s big game comes after he sat out the previous two games, which were both played on turf. He wasn’t listed on the injury report, but coach Veljko Paunovic said, “he didn’t recover from the physical issues that he had in the previous game.”
The rest seemed to do Accam some good, but his success in the game (as well as his recent run of eight goals and four assists in his last eight matches) coincides with questions about his future. He was recently rumored to be the target of a Turkish club.
In the past, Accam has spoken about his ambition to play at the highest levels. Typically, that means Europe. General manager Nelson Rodriguez said last month that he expects offers to come in for the 26-year-old because he is a good player in his prime ages.
So is Accam playing like someone trying to earn a new contract? That could be either impressing potential suitors in Europe or boosting his negotiation position with the Fire. Rodriguez has talked about contract negotiations with Accam before, and said those will not resume again until after the season.
“I wanted to be in a team where I would develop as a person and also win trophies, whether here or somewhere (else) I don’t know,” Accam said. “For me, I’m doing really well here and every year if I keep playing well there will be always interest. I know there is a lot of interest because I’m doing well. For me it’s always extra motivation to keep doing well. You don’t know where I will end up, whether here or somewhere else. I’ll just keep playing.”
Accam’s play earned him another call-up to the Ghanaian national team. He will join the team on Sunday for a pair of friendlies in the U.S. The Black Stars will take on Mexico in Houston on June 28 and the U.S. in East Hartford, Conn., on July 1 as the two North American countries prepare for the Gold Cup.
“That’s where I want to be,” Accam said. “I want to be playing for the national team so it’s extra motivation for me to perform well and also to go to the national team.”
Accam has been one of the most productive players in MLS this year, based on goals and assists, and is young enough to draw the attention of plenty of teams. For now, the Fire have him as a key part of the best season the club has had in years.
“I think that he understands very well how to play with the team that we have now and with the teammates that he is surrounded with,” coach Veljko Paunovic said. “We just have to work to give David opportunities… Then we expect that performances like that will come even more.”