The Chicago FIre’s march to the 2017 season continues today, as the squad lurches back north to America’s hat to take on the Montreal Impact. With the chance for any sort of hardware essentially gone this season, the lone consolation may be for the club to end its 36 match road winless streak (39 matches in all competition) and kill a narrative that has become more tired than that Snorlax that ran away from me yesterday (I"m still bitter). The match begins at 6:30 p.m. central time and airs on CSN Chicago Plus.
The last time these two sides played in April, Montreal topped Chicago 2-1 in what was one of the most entertaining matches of the season (lest we forget former Fire’s Kennedy Igboananike Goal of the Year wonderstrike). Par the course for this season, it looked as though the Fire would nab a point at home before Ignacio Piatti decided to one-up Igbo and scored a similar goal in stoppage time of the match to steal three points.
As they were four months ago, Montreal remains a dangerous team with numerous players who can take over a match. Aside from the aforementioned Piatti, who leads the team with 13 goals in 21 match - as well as adding 5 assists; the player that will draw the most attention is former Fire star Didier Drogba. Though not the destroyer of worlds he was last season, Drogba’s eight goals and five assists in 14 match highlight just how dangerous the 38-year-old remains, and that is not even taking into consideration how his presence helps create space for his teammates to create in their own rights. Unfortunately for the Fire, there are few teams that Drogba enjoys playing more than the club he scorned, as he’s scored five goals in three matches against Chicago.
Really, the only hope for the Fire to keep Drogba off the board is to hope his recent midweek illness sticks around, as the Ivorian is questionable for tonight’s match. Even without Drogba, the Impact cannot be overlooked as they hold a 5-2-2 record this season without their most well-known player.
A lot of that success comes from the play of those like Dominic Oduro (4 goals, 5 assists) and Lucas Ontivero (2 goals, 2 assists) and to a lesser extent, former Fire standout Harry Shipp (2 goals, 2 assists); who have allowed Montreal to control the midfield and keep the attack whether on build-up play or on a quick-hit counter.
And really, they have to keep possession to take pressure off of a back four that can only be described as "shaky" in recent weeks. The side has given up 34 goals in 23 match this season, and three clean sheets in their last 11 matches. The Impact are coming off a 3-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls where Bradley Wright Phillips and the Red Bulls attack regularly victimized the Impact center backs. The Fire haven’t shown any ability to consistently attack an opponent this season, but they could be in a good position if they were to do so tonight.
The Impact are a quality team with a lot of depth, and on paper they clearly outclass the Fire. It’s tough to see the Fire ending their infamous road streak, especially against a team like the Impact. All fans can hope for is an entertaining match, and for an apperance by the legend Drogba, when they tune in tonight. I’m going with a 4-2 Montreal victory.
What are your thoughts and predictions? Leave a comment below?