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Dynamic Tension: Chicago Fire vs Houston Dynamo, MLS Week 12 game preview

The injury-ravaged Fire must try to defend their home turf and gain some consistency

MLS: Chicago Fire at Houston Dynamo Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

There’s been this sense hanging around the Chicago Fire all season that they just need to hang on until reinforcements arrive. We’d sign that game-changing DP or Max Allocation Money player in the summer, all our players on the DL would come back from injury, and we’d get back to something resembling our 2017 form. We just need to hold on.

Meanwhile, all those big-name transfer targets have been filed under Ones That Got Away. Matt Polster suffered an injury setback and will be out for several months. Dax McCarty is also out for at least a few weeks.

This is where we’re at as the Houston Dynamo, facing their own problems with consistency and getting results, come to town looking for their opportunity to turn things around. A transfer strategy that appears to have run aground. Some of our most indispensable players nursing injuries. Barely enough healthy players to name a full gameday 18. And a Best XI that is nowhere near the level of quality as our 2017 Best XI.

This is what we have to work with. There’s no help coming.

Chicago Fire all-time MLS record vs Houston Dynamo: 6-8-9, 26 GF / 33 GA, 26 pts out of 69 [Editor’s note: nice]

Chicago Fire home MLS record vs Houston Dynamo: 4-4-3, 14 GF / 14 GA, 16 pts out of 33

Previously On...

That’s four points from their last nine. On the one hand, this team is vulnerable and can be beat. On the other hand, they’re also working off the same motivation we are. There’s a path to victory here, but ruin lurks around every corner.

Projected Lineup

(Sanchez; Vincent, Lillard, Kappelhof, Ellis; Adams, Schweinsteiger; Collier, Katai, Campos; Nikolic)

Given our current injury report, this is probably the best we can do. I tend to agree with Adnan that it’s time to give Rafael Ramos another shot— and this game is a good opportunity to try him out— but I think Pauno is probably going to stick with Ellis for now. On the upside, Mo Adams will learn a lot from being in a central midfield pair with the Big Handsome German.

I think this should be fine. Probably.

Keys To The Match

Score Some Goals: I mean look. Our defense isn’t as bad as it has been in recent seasons, and our current backline is doing the best they can under suboptimal conditions. Sanchez shaking some of the cobwebs in recent weeks has also helped. But let’s be real here— our defense isn’t going to save us. We need to accept that we’re going to ship goals, that clean sheets will be few and far between, and we need to make sure the attack compensates for all that. Right now, our most formidable opponent is ourselves.

No Really, Score Some Goals: 2017 Golden Boot Winner Nemanja Nikolic has scored five (5) goals this season. Even if you control for the lack of 2017 David Accam (as opposed to 2018 David Accam, which, yikes), that’s still way behind the pace compared to last season. Obviously the forward line needs to be better about getting him service, but Niko also needs to find ways to produce when he doesn’t have that service. We know he can do it. He knows he can do it.

Not Even Kidding About The Goals: Niko aside, this would be a great time for Aleksandar Katai to sort his shit out and become the productive marvel Pauno and N-Rod figured he could be when they brought him in. Same for Diego Campos, with his acceleration and humming engine and motivation to impress. Elliot Collier likely needs a little more time to settle into his role and adjust to the rigors of the professional game, but if he could maybe hurry that along that’d be greaaaaat, thaaaaaanks.

How To Watch

Television: Univision Deportes

Streaming: Twitter

Final Thoughts

Can the Fire get the job done against Houston? Will the healthy members of the squad step up amidst the team’s injury woes? Let us know in the comments!