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The Rocky Road Begins: Fire @ Toronto, MLS Week 7 Preview

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While the home stand was nice, the Fire size up their first real competition since Atlanta when they visit The Great White North

MLS: New England Revolution at Chicago Fire
This sea of red behind Schweinsteiger is going to be a slightly different shade this week as the Fire move on to Toronto
Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

As it was written, so it shall be: the Fire get a beautiful blowout against New England and all is right in the world. (Okay, maybe not “all,” but you know what I mean). That was honestly a truly dominating performance. Every side of the ball seemed to be in fluid motion with each other and the effect was 3-0. One of the main responses to it was that “New England was down a man,” but that’s their own dang fault for starting Je-Vaughn Watson. But it seems like the honey-moon might soon be over for Bastian Schweinsteiger as we begin to finally go up against teams that are actually good. Yes, neither Montreal, Columbus, nor New England are really that good. Montreal is 10th in the East, Columbus was missing a major play maker (Higuain), and New England’s early stats were a bit inflated. But this week, it’s back on the road for the first time since Atlanta.

Out of the shadows comes Toronto, stumbling around in the darkness. It has been a difficult season for Toronto, attempting rebound from losing the MLS Cup (although they basically won it in all but final score, but I digress). Right now they’re at 9th due to Giovinco not exactly being at his best recently and the rest of the team also suffering a bit of injury-itis. As you’ll see in the first highlights, Clint Irwin, their goalkeeper, took a weird landing for his knee and doesn’t look to be coming back any time soon. Meanwhile, their star defender, Drew Moor, is going into observation for an irregular heartbeat, the same thing that sidelined Dempsey last year. Who has been playing well is Jozy Altidore, netting three and dropping a couple of dimes as well. Look to him for where we need to focus a bit harder on the defense, but as you might notice, The Atomic Ant seems to be heating back up.

Toronto vs SKC 3/31

Toronto vs Atlanta 4/8

Toronto @ Columbus 4/15

Three Keys

The Giovinco Rules

In the 1988 Eastern Conference Finals between the Detroit Pistons and our own Chicago Bulls (or “our own” Pistons, Michigan is in Fire territory), Isiah Thomas created “The Jordan Rules” to try and stop the G.O.A.T. and it worked. This was due to the Bulls not really having a well-rounded enough team around Jordan at the time. I’d like to shift that idea over to this up-coming game. Giovinco and Altidore are very good players, but they’re kind of their only offense. They don’t really have a supporting cast. What the Fire need to do is isolate them and put heavy pressure on them specifically. Not saying to forget everyone else, but we need to control those two to win.

Niko! Use Quick Attack!

This weekend the Red Stars started their NWSL season by losing 2-0 in Houston. The first goal they gave up was an absolute howler of a counter-attack by Kaelia Ohai. The reason I’m telling you is not only to rep our great women’s team, but to also give a description of how I want our offense to run this game. As previously stated, Toronto’s supporting cast isn’t that good and when one of their best defenders is out, you need to attack them when they’re weakest. Counter-attacks are always hard to defend, but Toronto seems to be giving up a lot of them recently and we should keep it that way.

You’ve Got To Fight For The Right

Let’s just jump right in here: Michael Harrington is not good. This has been said over and over again and mostly by me (at least on here). Not saying he’s a bad guy, I’ve met him multiple times and he’s quite friendly. And he is improving a bit, but he can only be the best Michael Harrington he can be and that isn’t really that much. This comes into focus when you see that teams are beginning to notice our weakness there. Our right sided midfielder has been in a bit of a rotation, which also adds to the confusion there, but this falls on Harrington. I don’t really have any tips or anything to help; but I’ll at least say that while the Fire doesn’t have any other options on the right, Harrington still has a chance to prove all of his haters wrong.

Projected Lineups

Chicago Fire

Chicago Fire - MLS - Football tactics and formations

Toronto FC

Toronto FC - Football tactics and formations

How To Watch

Kickoff: Friday, April 21st 7:30 EDT/6:30 CDT

TV/Streaming: CSN-Chicago+ II (Here’s where it is if you were wondering), MLS Live

So will the inferno drive on into our first road win this season? Or will Toronto finally find their footing and use us as a launchpad? Or will it be a draw to keep some momentum moving for both sides? Tell us what you think in the comments!