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No Place Like Home: Fire vs. RSL Preview

The Fire opens Toyota Park back up for the 2017 season against Real Salt Lake. Are the Men In Red ready?

MLS: Chicago Fire at Columbus Crew SC
The away support was already loud in Columbus. Time to bring the ruckus at home.
Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Well, there goes breaking our Season Opener losing streak. It was a decent game according to most, including us, but we were unable to win. That’s okay as long as we win this one. You see, we’ve got another winless streak to try to break (yes, another one, don’t you remember how bad we’ve been?). The last time we won our home opener was 2011, a 3-2 win against Sporting Kansas City. To give you an idea of how long ago that was, our three goal-scorers were Diego Chaves, Gaston Puerari, and Marco Pappa. If we ever want to break out of these shadows, we need to start changing D’s to W’s.

On the subject of our opponent, Real Salt Lake started their season at home against Toronto FC. According to what I saw from the highlights, the game was a bit sloppy, but both teams had plenty of chances. From what I saw in the stats was that RSL was raining Toronto in shots, but found the frame only 3 times. I could go into it now, but I’ll save this for our keys. Here’s the highlights from their season opener:

Three Keys

Take On Their Defense, But Don’t Forget Rimando

So one thing I saw in that highlight video is that RSL’s defense looks pretty sloppy. Specifically their right side. That means that we may be able to exploit it, if Alvarez is up to the task. But the big thing to remember is that they have an MLS legend between the sticks in Nick Rimando. Although he made a reckless foul, he stepped up and stopped the ensuing penalty. This means we have to be on our game and ready to take advantage of any situation given to us.

Watch the Wings

Another thing that stood out to me both in our game and in the stats from their game was the wing play. More specifically, our ability to defend it. As we’ve stated before here, we think that the weakest position on the team is right back. It just so happens RSL attacks mostly on their right. While that may scare you, it means they’ll be attacking our left. That means it’s actually our left back, Brandon Vincent, who will get tested the most. But the biggest test of all is our own attacking wingers coming back to help. We heard from the team before the game that they have the leadership up front to push players back to help, but it still wasn’t enough to stop a run down the left wing ending in a cross and a goal. Plug it up and we’ll be able to withstand the most of RSL’s attack.

Finish Him!

An issue that has persisted for a while, the Fire seemed unable to finish the ball last time out. That doesn’t mean this season can’t be different, but we need to stop it now. I’m specifically calling out what could’ve been the winning goal late in the game when the ball dropped right between Luis Solignac and an empty net, who hesitated before hitting it and lost the ball. As my dad would say (and my grandfather probably said), “You gotta make those plays in the big leagues!”

Projected Line-ups

Chicago Fire 2017 opening day - MLS - Football tactics and formations
Real Salt Lake - Major League Soccer - 11th March 2017 - Football tactics and formations

How to Watch

Kickoff: March 11th, 2017, 1:00 PM CST

TV/Streaming: CSN-Chicago, MLS Live

So where do you think this game is going? Will we be the first team this season to get past Rimando? Will we get our first home opener win since 2011? Or will we recieve our first L of the 2017 campaign? You tell us!