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Finishing Up: Fire @ LA, MLS Week 9 Preview

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The Fire look to fix up their troubles with finishing just as they’re wrapping up their three-game road trip

MLS: Chicago Fire at New York Red Bulls
For some reason, this picture of Nemanja Nikolic celebrating his goal looks like some sort of famous piece art-work. Points to whoever can figure out what it is.
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Normally I’d be one of the first people claiming this as a sign of impending doom, the Fire weren’t that bad against New York. In fact, they appeared to dominate for some pretty strong stretches of the game. While the possession stat and the passing stats were basically equal, the Fire out-shot the Red Bulls and just generally saw more chances. But we lost. So what happened? Finishing. The Fire let too many chances slip by them and that’s going to be something very important to look for going into this game.

Normally LA would be a game you circle on the calendar, but this year is different. The Galaxy not looking too good at all. Taking 10th in the West and 19th in the Shield, they seem to simply be gasping for air right now. Now without their major players like Keane and Donovan, they don’t look too tough. They look demoralized. If we want to talk about momentum, the Fire don’t seem to have lost too much momentum through the past two games; but for a team with such high expectations as LA, this is a living nightmare. Here’s their past three:

@ Orlando City 4/15

vs Seattle Sounders 4/23

vs Philadelphia Union 4/29

Three Keys

Finishing

So there were some issues with finishing the last game. We’ve been over it already, but we still need to address it as a key, because it is key. You can’t score if the ball doesn’t go in the net, that is the definition of a goal, and if you can’t put the ball in the net, you need to fix on that. I really hope that our main focus throughout this week was finishing and putting the ball on frame. My challenge to the strikers: Challenge The Keeper.

We Aren’t That Different, The Two of Us

While scouting this LA team, I felt as though there was something a bit familiar. The way that their defense completely collapsed looked so similar to the Fire defense of recent years. But more specifically, they’ve got problems with their fullbacks, same as the Fire. Our advantage is that we have one fullback that seems to be at least fairly capable, while the LA team has degraded beyond disbelief. There’s another comparison I can mention about the two international goalkeepers, but theirs is injured so I’ll leave it.

Keep Them Down

The major point of this game should be to make sure that we don’t let LA “get back up”. By “get back up,” I mean that LA is currently rotting in the basement of the West for almost no reason and don’t really look like they’re getting any help. They are down and are looking for some sort of foothold to get up. I don’t care if they do get up, but the Fire should not let themselves be that foothold. LA already seems demoralized, so the Fire need to strike first and strike hard.

Projected Lineups

Chicago Fire

LA Galaxy

How To Watch

Kickoff: Saturday May 6th, 7:30 PM PST/9:30 PM CST

TV/Streaming: CSN-Chicago, MLS Live

So will the Fire snap out of their road streak or will the Galaxy make the Fire their first step back up the table? Or does none of this matter and we’re just going to get a scoreless draw? Tell us what you think in the comments.