When: Saturday August 16th at 5:30PM CST
Where: Stade Saputo, Montreal, Quebec
Where to Watch: My50 Chicago, TWCSC Wisconsin
Hey, What Happened?
After a league win last Sunday versus the Red Bulls, the Fire followed that up by laying an egg versus the Sounders in the US Open Cup semifinal on Wednesday. That 'egg' had to be the most embarrassing game that the Fire has ever played; 6-0 was the final score line. Outplayed, outclassed, and just humiliated as the Fire were run out of town by a superior Sounders team that showed the Men in Red they aren't on their level. The Sounders were able to put up six goals even though some of their regulars did not start or even play. Time to move on and put this loss in the rear view mirror and block it from memory.
Hey, What's Happening?
This Saturday the Fire travel north of the border to take on the Montreal Impact, who are led by former Fire legend, technical director, and head coach Frank Klopas. Since being let go at the end of the 2013 season from his duties in Chicago, Klopas has led the impact to last place in the MLS through 22 games with a 3 win, 14 loss, and 5 tie record. His defense is second worst in the league; his offense is also second worst in the league.
All signs point to the Fire bouncing back from the embarrassing defeat in the Open Cup to three points on Saturday. This could be a trap game, though, as Montreal literally has nothing to lose as they finish the rest of the MLS season with only CONCACAF Champions League glory to look forward to.
Hey, What Should Happen?
7 goals in 8 games, that's what the Fire's offense has done in the league lately. That is not going to get it done if this team wants to even think about being in the 2014 playoffs. What makes our offensive production even worse is that our defense has not been that bad in the same span. Giving up 9 goals over the last 8 games is pretty good when you think about it (or compare it to results earlier in the season), but the offense has to be able to capitalize on the good work of the defense. Mike Magee and Quincy Amarikwa have to start putting chances away, Harrison Shipp has to find a good run of form again, and someone else - be it Grant Ward, Razvan Cocis, Alex, or Matt Watson - has to step up and try to contribute to offensive production. Even IF this team makes the playoffs it won't matter if this team can't find the back of the net more often in games.
This could be a great jump-start for the offense, as they take on the second-worst defense in MLS, and a team that has lost SEVEN straight. This game could be just exactly what the doctor ordered for Yallop and company.
For Montreal its all about their DPs. I would expect Montreal to start Marco Di Vaio up top along with Jack McInerney. Di Vaio sat out last week's league match versus Philadelphia because he played in Montreal's CONCACAF Champions League opener 4 days before. Over the past couple years the Impact's offense lived and died with the form of Di Vaio and this season is the same as the Italian has been limited in games due to injuries and age.
This match will also be a first look at Montreal's new DP playmaker from Argentina, Ignacio Piatti. Brought in from San Lorenzo, the 29-year-old No. 10 may not get the start, but I would guess that he will see significant minutes Saturday night as he will add an element to the Impact team that has been missing this season. He will be able to add confidence and stability in the center of the field as they push from the back to the front. He will definitely be a handful for Cocis, Watson, or whoever starts in the center for Yallop.
Hey What's Going to Happen?
According to Sports Club Stats in order for the Fire to match last year's cut off for the playoffs, 49 points, the Fire must have 7 wins, 3 draws, and 2 losses the rest of the season which would give them a 98.9% chance of making the playoffs. To have a better than 50 % chance of making the playoffs the Fire have to reach 45 points which means they would have to at least have 6 wins, 2 draws, and 4 losses or 5 wins, 5 draws, and 2 losses the rest of the way. That's a tall task for a team that has shown inconsistency all season long.
To make the playoffs, a win in Montreal would be a great start - so I'm going to go with a 1-0 win for the Men in Red. This game features two of the worst teams in MLS, so I'm not expecting a masterpiece of a game, probably a physical and dull game filled with bunker and long-ball tactics from the Fire.