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Back To Square Two: Fire @ SKC, MLS Week 21 Preview

The Fire look to regroup as they travel to The Blue Hell tomorrow

MLS: Chicago Fire at New York City FC
What if Veljko Paunovic, but mohawk?
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Well. That’s one way to come back from a long break. But that was also a long time coming. While it definitely knocks us down, this isn’t “Square One”. We have a much better team than where we were at “Square One”. This is more like “Square Two” and it’s time for the team to regroup a bit closer to home. With Dax McCarty coming back from the Gold Cup squad, he should not only bring back his normal impact, but even more so with the energy from winning a cup. Unfortunately not coming back anytime soon is Brandon Vincent, who’s been reported out for the next few weeks after getting injured warming up for the NYCFC game. But he’s not the real key absence in this game. Let’s look over at Kansas.

So this is Kansas. While I can talk about their attack and Dom Dwyer here, I’ll save that for later. Now, let’s talk the true strength of KC, their defense. Led by true All-Star snubs Tim Melia and Ike Opara, they’ve let in a league best 15 goals. Their issue however, is that Opara is out for this upcoming game and that leaves a big gap in that defense. Expect that to be something the Fire can use to their advantage. Let’s look at some clips.

vs. Philadelphia Union 7/6

vs. FC Dallas 7/11 (USOC)

vs. Real Salt Lake 7/22

Three Keys

Left Back, Left Behind?

As mentioned earlier, Vincent is out. Though he has plenty of critics within the fanbase, most people agree that he’s one of the best left backs in the league. So we need to think up who could replace him for the next few weeks. While Harrington got the start last week, I think that was more out of necessity. Recently, St Louis announced that Patrick Doody was returning to Chicago from his short loan. I don’t really truly expcet him to start, but I really hope he does. He was a phenomenal prospect when he signed his homegrown contract and was just kinda left behind the past few seasons. He’s put in work in St. Louis and can only hope he can get a chance to prove himself here.

Life Without Dom

Here’s the big story. The blockbuster Dom Dwyer trade that shook MLS this week has the biggest affect on this upcoming game. This isn’t the first game without him, as they were without him for the entirety of the Gold Cup; but it’ll be the first time in quite a few years where they won’t have him to fall back on further in the season if they slip up. I think that they could handle this well, you saw what they did against FC Dallas. Unfortunately they’ll be hindered further with the absence of Gerso, who was DisCo’d earlier and is now suspended. I’m not quite sure who will step up, but if there was ever a time for someone to do it, it would be this game.

Worst Power Play in Chicago

Think of this as Jiggly’s tactics corner. This is the second time that we’ve gone up a man and done nothing about it. This time the opposing team just so happened to continue attacking and we got burned. While there are a ton of differences between the two games the same thing remains, we need to push harder when we go up a man. We already have a hockey team that has difficulties playing with an extra man, we don’t need such troubles on our side of town. We have to utilize the extra space given to us by the missing player. Whether that’s in the middle of the field or the backline, someone needs to be cutting in.

Projected Lineups

Chicago Fire

Sporting Kansas City

How To Watch

Kickoff: Saturday July 29th, 7:00PM CDT/7:00PM CDT

TV/Streaming: CSN-Chicago, MLS Live

So which team will overcome their loss? The team who lost a game or the team that lost a franchise player? Tell us what you think in the comments.