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Let’s Go Streaking: Fire vs. FC Dallas, MLS Week 13 Preview

The Fire have won three on the road, but now face a difficult test at home. Can they keep a streak going?

MLS: Chicago Fire at D.C. United
Bastian Schweinsteiger blows past a DC player because that’s what he does on a regular basis (except to everyone; not just limited to DC players).
Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

I’d like to first congratulate the team on a job well done. Not only have they won on the road in the US, but they were able to handle themselves against a team that was clearly worse than them on the road. In that game it looked like Basti was finally stepping back out of the shadows and into the spotlight of our play, no longer content with his “facilitator” role. This means an even more potent midfield with the ability to have them both clicking at the same time. But enough about us, I hear something trotting its way up from the south.

That sound is FC Dallas, fresh off of a disappointing loss a home against San Jose. They will definitely be looking for a win a lot more than previous visits. Usually we are the scrappy underdog team to take on the all-powerful Dallas squad, but this year we seem to be on equal footing. That doesn’t bode well for us to be honest. We are going to be getting a full strength, first choice lineup that will be prepared for us. No more “kicking a team as they’re going down,” this is the real deal. Although, after their loss against San Jose, we may be the team to officially send them down a spiral, but I highly doubt they’d just sit and let that happen. Here’s a wide variety of the past 3 games, a win, a draw, and a loss:

Vs. RSL 5/6

Vs. NYCFC 5/14

Vs. San Jose 5/20

Three Keys

The Wind

One of the big things for the Fire to watch out for on Dallas’ attack is Max Urruti. Urruti is probably better known as a striker for Portland (or at least that’s where I last saw him), but has been a pretty consistent scorer since moving to Dallas a couple of years ago. One of the biggest things helping him surge forward is the brilliant counter attack that Dallas possesses. It’s not exactly “the best in the league,” but it’s a counter that gets it done. That means the Fire need to be as organized as possible and communicating very well in order to handle those odd-man rushes.

The Umbrella

Speaking of defenses, Dallas has one of the most structurally sound defenses I’ve seen in this league so far. With two very close centerbacks, almost the entire team falls back onto them into what is basically known in the hockey world as an “Umbrella”. This means that there is just an arc of players holding down the “defensive zone”, in this case the box. When you watch other teams try to get past it, you see how they struggle. In the past three games, the only two given up were a set piece and some aerial acrobatics from San Jose. But what I also see is that Dallas demonstrates the way to beat their D in every game.

The Wind That Blows The Umbrella

What the Fire needs to do is pull off those quick attacks so that the umbrella can’t descend on the box. In fact, think about an umbrella. It keeps it’s shape when pressed down upon; but when the wind gets under it the umbrella is no longer an umbrella, it’s a bowl, leaving you very unprotected. If they play like an umbrella you’ve got to think like an umbrella and get in behind it in whatever way possible. That also adds into my Plan B, which is just carpet bombing the area with crosses and shots to try to break down the uniformity and create some goals off of second or even third chance shots. Be the wind.

Projected Lineups

Chicago Fire

FC Dallas

How To Watch

Kickoff: Thursday May 25th, 2017; 7:30 PM CST/7:30 PM CST

TV/Streaming: CSN Plus, MLS Live

So will Dallas’ umbrella become a steel curtain, or will the Fire use some thermal dynamics and push their way into a streak? And am I reaching way too much for this joke and now overcompensating for it by doubling down and then being self-conscious about it? Tell us in the comments below!