Here is a quick look at the Chicago Fire's 3-0 victory on Wednesday against Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah:
How it happened: Marco Pappa netted three goals, including a ninth-minute strike with his right foot past RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando for a 1-0 Chicago lead. Shortly after in the 11th minute, Salt Lake captain Kyle Beckerman head-butted the Fire's Daniel Paladini at midfield and received a straight red card. Playing up a man, Chicago maintained the offensive pressure. In the 36th minute, Pappa garnered his second tally for a 2-0 lead as he was perfectly set up by Fire midfielder Pavel Pardo. In the 75th, Pappa drove a shot inside the far left post for the hat trick.
What it means: With their fifth win in six games, the Fire have narrowed the gap toward a possible playoff spot with four regular-season matches remaining. Chicago improved to 7-8-15 (36 points) and is within striking distance of the New York Red Bulls, who currently hold the final wild card spot with 39 points. Salt Lake falls to 15-9-6 (51 points).
Outside the box: Pappa had not scored a goal since June 26 against the New York Red Bulls. Wednesday marked Pappa's first multi-goal game of the season, and he now has eight goals on the campaign.
Up next: The Fire stay on the road to take on the Houston Dynamo on Saturday at Robertson Stadium.