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Reboot: Chicago Fire vs Philadelphia Union, MLS Week 30 Preview

Just in time to help gain momentum, the Fire come up against a team and a game that could give them more confidence moving forward... If they can win.

MLS: D.C. United at Chicago Fire
Once again, the Fire gather around in celebration.
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

That’s exactly what we want to see. Taking the easy three points and picking up the easy momentum boost. Niko gets another goal to add to his goal-scoring confidence and our defense gets just the slightest of reprieve after a clean sheet. Things looked good last week, but that was because it was easy. This won’t be as easy as it’s away from home. We never do well there, but we must brave the flight out of Midway (or O’Hare) to stay above Atlanta in third. Here’s our opponent now:

The Philadelphia Union have a weird relationship with winning. They do it sometimes and other times they don’t. That sounds very vague to most people, but those who have watched this team for a bit know exactly what I mean. If you can remember back to then, last season was a real weird one as they had shot right up the table, then dropped right back down as the season wore on. And though they don’t win often, when they win they win big. 3-0 scorelines pave the way through their hall of victories this season. But at the moment, they haven’t won since early August. Here are their last three games, which are all draws:

Vs. Atlanta 8/26

Vs. Minnesota 9/9

Vs. NYRB 9/17

Three Keys

Sapong

One of the more unsung heroes of this season is unsung for a reason: he’s on Philly. CJ Sapong has been one of the more consistent bright spots for the Union, netting 13 goals and picking up 4 more assists. He’s even more dangerous at home, scoring 10 of those 13 in Chester, PA. This should once again be a game where we need to look at possible man marking, with Campbell being a fairly obvious choice to take on the job. While Meira appears to be healthy, I don’t think Pauno will just toss Campbell out of the line-up after a great game against DC and dangerous striker as Sapong looming.

All-Purpose Backs

So I did some math for our roundtable this week and found a pretty interesting correlation between our winning and who’s playing at our fullback positions. We didn’t start the season well and Polster wasn’t out there. Polster is back and suddenly we begin a winning streak. We lose Vincent and then we start a bit of a skid. Now both players are back and I fully expect them to help out greatly. I know that the big rule in statistics is “correlation =/= causation,” but it’s still a good idea to bet on it helping out quite a bit.

Love For the Forgotten

I feel like no one really gives too much thought to goalkeepers on terrible teams. It’s not their fault the defense in front of them is terrible. We had one amazing goalkeeper with a bad defense before and just faced up against another one last week. Now, we face one once again in Andre Blake. Blake is still the Jamaican National Team’s number one and that’s for good reason. He has a great reach and amazing reactions. Too often players like him go unnoticed, but just keep him in mind while watching the game.

Projected Lineups

Chicago Fire

Philadelphia Union

How To Watch

Kickoff: Saturday September 23rd, 7:00PM EDT/6:00PM CDT

TV/Streaming: CSN-Chicago, MLS Live

So do you think the Fire can continue their flip to the positive with another win? Or are we going to fall victim to one of Philly’s patented unexpected beatdowns? Tell us what you think in the comments.