When: Saturday August 2nd at 7:30PM CST
Where: Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois
Where to Watch: My50 Chicago, TWCSC Wisconsin, Toyota Park stands
Hey, What Happened?
Wednesday night the Fire hosted the Vancouver Whitecaps and the two sides played to a 0-0 tie. What kind of draw was it, you ask? Well, the offensive opportunities from both sides were hard to come by; the teams combined for a grand total of four shots on frame. Yet again, the Fire gave up possession at home and subsequently gave up home field advantage to move their record at home to 1 win, 7 ties, and 2 losses.
Hey, What's Happening?
Saturday night the Fire take on their yellow rivals from Ohio, the Columbus Crew. The Crew, who sit in the fifth and final playoff spot in the East, are riding a two-game win streak after going winless in 7 games before that. Last weekend, the Crew managed to get a 2-1 win versus New England. This is a must-win game for both the Fire and Crew, as the standings are becoming more defined with good teams heading to the top of the table while the teams that are struggling head towards the opposite end.
Hey, What Should Happen?
Just win. That's right, the Fire just have to win. With a dismal record at home and a desperate need to get a full three points, being at home and with the Crew in town there is no better chance than now. The reason I say this is because the Crew sit in the fifith and final playoff spot and they also haven't won at Toyota Park since 2006. There is no reason why the Fire shouldn't dominate the Crew and erase the early season defeat when the Fire travelled to Crew Stadium in May.
This game is going to come down to which team has the better midfield. On Wednesday the Fire were able to contain a potent Vancouver attack but at the same time they still gave up the possession battle and could not create anything from the midfield positions. I would expect to see Jeff Larentowicz to keep seeing time in the backline until this experiment backfires and Yallop goes back to his normal back four. Until then it will more than likely be a combination of Ritter/Alex/Watson in the center with the main job this week of stopping Federico Higauin and the double pivot of Tony Tchani and Will Trapp supporting him. This is the backbone of the Crew and if you can limit the space and chances that they are able to have than getting the three points will be much easier.
Don't get me wrong though, the onus is still on the Fire to create and finish their chances. Wednesday night we saw an inability by the midfield to create quality chances for our attack. Now with Shipp coming back in to the starting lineup will help ease this problem as right now he is probably our best creative option.
Hey What's Going to Happen?
As the season enters the meat of its second half, the Fire have 14 games left in order to solidify a playoff spot. Out of those 14 games left, all but one are versus Eastern Conference opponents. Today's game against Columbus is a good place to start actually picking up three points versus East opponents.
As for this game, I'm going to go with a - wait for it - tie. The way that the Fire have played over the last month or so, I just don't see them getting a win in this one. They tend to sit back too much, and when they attack they do not have numbers crashing into the box. So for tonight you will probably see goals but I'm guessing it will end in a tie. 1-1? 2-2? Something like that.