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Don’t Give Up The Ship: Chicago Fire vs New York Red Bulls, 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs Knockout Round Preview

The Fire are back in the postseason. Time to avenge ourselves and make things right at home.

MLS: Philadelphia Union at Chicago Fire
This is our home. This is our ship. Don’t give it up.
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

On June 1st, 1813, US Navy Captain James Lawrence was mortally wounded in a naval battle (one that he shouldn’t have gotten into, but that’s for history majors). His dying words to his men had something to the effect of, “don’t give up the ship.” A couple months later on September 10th, the legendary Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry had those words flying high on his flag as he went into the Battle of Lake Erie.

What does this mean to the Fire? A lot.

We didn’t get that first round bye and I don’t really want to get into that game on Sunday, but we did get a home game in the knockout round. That means it’ll be on our home turf. Toyota Park is our territory.

Although Captain Lawrence’s last command was a compelling one, the ship was taken. That ship is the 2012 season. (We’ll get to it later). Commodore Perry, on the other hand, actually lost and then re-took his own ship in that battle. He stumbled, but he got back up.

The Fire may have stumbled against Houston; but now with Bastian Schweinsteiger giving hints to a possible return and a few others returning from injuries, it’s time for us to get back up and re-take the ship.

But first, let’s look at who we’re up against.

Of all the excitement around “Decision Day”, the New York Red Bulls were stuck with being the most meaningless game of all of the playoff teams. They qualified solidly at 6th place and have definitely earned the right to be in the postseason. While we have the Golden Boot winner, RBNY has the Assist King in Sacha Kljestan. He’s been feeding Bradley Wright-Phillips all season and will continue to do so. Also making waves are veteran goalkeeper Luis Robles, attack-minded holding mid Felipe, and literally-anywhere-back Kemar Lawrence. Those last two are the most important as they’re very easy to lose track of, which makes them great targets for the final pass.

Vs. Vancouver 10/7

Vs. Atlanta 10/15

Vs. DC 10/22

Three Keys

Counter Counter Counter

I don’t think this can be repeated enough. The Red Bulls may have a more defensive looking formation, but they attack with everyone they’ve got. This leaves them open in the back and very susceptible to counter-attacks. That means we need quick passes out of the back from Basti and Dax, a fast transition down the pitch from Accam, and Niko on the shoulder of that last defender. This isn’t a picnic anymore. Is Playoffs.

He’s Crafty

A Chicago Fire original, Jesse Marsch knows this team pretty well. Well, maybe not this team specifically, but that’s not really the point right now. The point is that he loves trick plays. You might remember that one time he pulled out the roller corner kick against us (look it up) and against Atlanta you can see how the Red Bulls capitalized on the quick free kick while the opposing defense was arguing. This means the Fire need to be on the look out for this sort of stuff, especially on set pieces. Don’t lull yourselves into a false sense of security because that’s when they get you.

Historical Accuracy

Just so that we’re all on the same page here, I want to give you guys a little peek at how our last foray into the playoffs went. We also had a chance for a bye week, but ended up in the knockout round at home. Things didn’t go well, but it’s important to remember our past so we can cherish our present even more.

So step into the WABAC machine to October 31st, 2012:

Projected Lineups

Chicago Fire

New York Red Bulls

How To Watch

Kickoff: Wednesday, October 25th, 7:30PM CDT, at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, IL

TV/Streaming: FS1, Unimas, MLS Live

Will the Fire “get back the ship” and take their first playoff win since 2009? Or are we just going to have another Chesapeake to avenge next season? Tell us in the comments.