Forward C.J. Sapong scored two goals, and the Chicago Fire erupted for five first-half scores en route to a 5-1 trouncing of Atlanta United on Wednesday night at Bridgeview, Ill.
Midfielder Nicolas Gaitan recorded one goal and three assists and defender Francisco Calvo added one goal and one assist for the Fire, who halted a six-match winless stretch (0-3-3). Midfielder Fabian Herbers also scored for Chicago (5-7-7, 22 points), which improved to 5-1-4 at home.
Forward Brandon Vazquez scored for Atlanta United (9-7-2, 29 points), who played without leading scorer Josef Martinez (10 goals). Martinez recently finished playing for the Venezuelan national team and didn't make the trip to Chicago.
The Fire had a 24-3 edge in shots and placed 10 on target. Atlanta United put just one shot on net.
Chicago had a 13-1 advantage in first-half shots. The onslaught started in the fourth minute, when Gaitan sent a left-footed corner kick into the box and Calvo snapped a header to the right of Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
Just three minutes later, Sapong scored his first goal with a right-footed shot that went between the legs of Guzan to make it 2-0.
Things got worse for Atlanta United in the 11th minute when defender Leandro Gonzalez Pirez was hit with a red card for denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity. Midfielder Aleksandar Katai was in position for a close-range shot when a sliding Pirez had the ball glance off his hand.
That left Atlanta with just 10 players -- and also facing a three-goal deficit, as Gaitan drilled home the ensuing penalty kick with his left foot in the 13th minute.
Sapong made it 4-0 in the 37th minute with a goal set up by Gaitan's heel pass. Sapong blasted a right-footer past the extended right leg of Guzan to find the left corner of the net.
The Fire boosted the lead to 5-0 in the 44th minute as Herbers received a pass from Calvo, turned and snapped a hard right-footed shot past Guzan.
Atlanta United got on the board in the 58th minute when Vazquez lined up a penalty kick and found the right corner, as Fire goalkeeper Kenneth Kronholm went the other direction.