The reception to Nelson Rodriguez’ media roundtable on Wednesday among Chicago Fire fans was, uh, not enthusiastic. Whatever attempt N-Rod made to soothe tempers and assuage fears did not work. FWIW, I’m not sure if there’s anything Rodriguez could’ve said that would’ve put anyone’s minds at ease— there’s more to running a club than just results on the pitch, and I’m inclined to agree with him that values matter at least as much as points. But results are the metric that front offices are judged on, and the Fire’s 2018 season so far speaks for itself.
With one win in their last five games and a back-to-back losses in the rearview mirror, the mood among Fire supporters is grim. It’s not much better in the locker room either, where Bastian Schweinsteiger took time after last weekend’s loss to Houston to call out his own teammates in the press. No one’s happy right now, but the MLS season doesn’t give you time to walk it off.
The Fire are on the road this weekend to take on an Orlando side that’s not much better off than we are. Missing some key members of the squad and coming off back-to-back losses of their own, there’s more than a faint whiff of desperation from both teams.
The Men In Red have had a terrible start to the season and there may be no coming back from it. But whatever our playoff chances or Open Cup ambitions, it’s never too late to salvage some dignity.
Chicago Fire all-time MLS record vs Orlando City: 1-4-2, 10 GF / 8 GA, 7 pts out of 21
Chicago Fire away MLS record vs Orlando City: 0-3-0, 2 GF / 2 GA, 3 pts out of 9
The loss to Atlanta is a bit of a wash— Atlanta are really good right now and it was a major rivalry fixture. The loss to Toronto, though, could be instructive.
Sanchez; Vincent, Lillard, Kappelhof, Ellis; Schweinsteiger, Johnson, Adams; Katai, Nikolic, Campos
I’m still holding out hope that Pauno will pick Ramos over Ellis this week, as well as move Tchani back to the bench. But I suspect that the teamsheet tomorrow will end up looking like last week’s.
Keys To The Match
Kick ‘Em While They’re Down: Orlando will be without two of their best goalscorers on Saturday, with Dom Dwyer nursing an injury and Yoshi Yotun out on international duty. The home team isn’t going to be firing on all cylinders. The Fire must find a way to take advantage of that.
Step To The Left: One of Orlando’s secret weapons this season is Mohamed El-Munir. The left back has been posting some impressive performances in 2018, and has made a name for himself with a knack for making hard tackles and forcing turnovers. The Fire are going to have to mindful of him and find ways to get attacks going anyway. That means either going around El-Munir or through him.
Control The Center: Last season the Fire’s midfield was perhaps the team’s greatest strength. With Juninho gone, Dax McCarty out injured, and Tony Tchani proving himself to be an ongoing liability, this key strength has become a glaring weakness. Thankfully, we still have the Big Handsome German, plus Mo Adams as a physical and eager-to-please sidekick. The two of them are going to have to work together to keep the center of the park locked down.
How To Watch
Television: WRDQ TV 27 (Orlando)
Can the Fire dig deep and get a result? Let us know in the comments below!