VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- After living through the dark, early days, Camilo understands why the Vancouver Whitecaps are now enjoying some sunlight in Major League Soccer.
The Brazilian striker put on a show, scoring two pretty goals in just over five minutes in the second half as Vancouver defeated the Chicago Fire 3-1 on Sunday. The Whitecaps are unbeaten in six games and have seven wins in their last 10 matches to climb into third place in the Western Conference.
"I think we play more as a team," said Camilo, who was part of the Whitecaps when they joined MLS three seasons ago. "We work for each other, we fight for each other."
The Whitecaps won six games their first season and managed to squeeze into the playoffs last year.
"Game after game, we are confident," Camilo said. "We keep working for each other."
Camilo's goal in the 66th minute was a work of art. He gathered a long ball from goalkeeper Brad Knighton and broke down the left side. After turning Chicago defender Shaun Francis inside-out with a couple of neat moves, Camilo beat Chicago keeper Paolo Tornaghi with a hard, low shot off his right foot.
It was Vancouver's 100th MLS goal. Knighton's assist was also the team's 100th in MLS.
Camilo was on center stage again in the 71st minute. He broke in on Tornaghi, but the keeper made a diving save. Camilo maintained control of the ball and fired a shot that traveled through several Fire defenders and past Tornaghi's hand.
"I just work hard for when I get the opportunities," said Camilo, who has taken over the league lead with 12 goals, 10 of them coming in the last nine games. "Today, I had a lot of chances.
"I try to score every time I can. I was very happy today."
Kekuta Manneh added to the Whitecaps' lead with a goal -- his second of the season -- in the 85th minute.
Chicago's Patrick Nyarko scored late in the match.
Francis said miscues burned the Fire.
"The game is all about mistakes and who makes the most mistakes," he said. "The other team is going to capitalize on those chance.
"They capitalized on their chances and scored."
Camilo has scored 29 of Vancouver's 101 goals since the team came into the league.
"As soon as he gets squared up in the box, he's really deadly," Vancouver coach Martin Rennie said. "He goes past people.
"Camilo is on a fantastic run. It makes a big difference to any team when your strikers are scoring."
Vancouver's record improved to 9-5-5 for 32 points, one ahead of FC Dallas. The Whitecaps are also 7-0-3 in league games at home this season.
Chicago remained eighth in the Eastern Conference with a 6-8-3 record for 21 points.
The roof was open at BC Place Stadium as a crowd of 20,206 watched the game on a warm, sunny afternoon.
The Whitecaps looked flat in the first half and needed a couple big saves from Knighton to keep in the match. In just the second minute, Chicago's Chris Rolfe worked around a defender and fired a hard shot that Knighton got a hand on.
Not long after that, Mike Magee, who has 11 goals this season, lifted a corner kick into the box that had Knighton scrambling. In the 25th minute, Magee took a pass from Nyarko but headed the ball wide.
"We didn't start the way we wanted to," Knighton said. "It's my job to keep us in the game. The guys took over in the second half."
Chicago coach Frank Klopas said missed chances cost his team.
"We had a lot of good opportunities that I think we should have taken advantage of," he said. "In a game like this, it's disappointing, with the way we played and the chances we had in the first half, not to walk away with points. They were able to put their chances away."
After years of chasing teams, the Whitecaps now find themselves the club others want to catch.
"It's always nice to be moving up the table," Rennie said. "We need to be focused on one game at a time."
Vancouver captain Kenny Miller almost put the Whitecaps on the board early in the second half. The Scottish striker took a pass from midfielder Gershon Koffie and blasted a shot that hit the post behind the outstretched fingers of Tornaghi. Miller shook his head and looked skyward.
NOTES: Knighton has assists in back-to-back games. ... Chicago has scored just five goals on the road this year.