Last night’s Open Cup quarterfinal against Louisville FC went rather smoothly for the Chicago Fire last night. In the biggest game of the season so far, the Men In Red were able to get the job done, soundly defeating the USL side by a 4-0 scoreline. The win booked a spot in the semifinals of the tournament where the Fire will face off against the Philadelphia Union.
But there was one problem with last night’s game that could potentially spell danger for the club. Around the 69th minute, midfielder and captain Dax McCarty went to ground with what looked to be a non-contact injury. After receiving assistance from the physio team, McCarty was helped up and led off the pitch and straight to the locker room.
Dax looked disgruntled as he came off the field, taking off his jersey while shaking his head. Given that it was a non-contact injury, there are legitimate reasons to be worried about Dax. These kind of injuries have the potential to keep players on the sideline for much longer than most contact injuries.
The club hasn’t made an official announcement just yet, but there’s a chance the Fire will be without McCarty for a while. Luckily, Chicago has a replacement on the bench, who will be itching for a chance to return to the Starting XI.
Mo Adams was a key part of the Fire first team earlier in the season, but has been forced back onto the bench in recent weeks. His playing prospects fell victim to the rise of Brandt Bronico, who has been the breakout player of the season for Chicago. With Dax McCarty and Bastian Schweinsteiger guaranteed locks in the middle of the park, that leaves only one player left to complete the midfield trio. Bronico has deserved every minute he’s gotten, but it has been a shame to see Adams forced out the first team.
Adams now has a chance to revitalize his Fire career and prove why the club had such high hopes for him on draft day. As a proper defensive-minded central midfielder, Adams could come in and keep the Fire midfield balanced, allowing Bronico and Schweinsteiger the freedom to venture forward. In his last three starts— not including the Dallas game, where Chicago rolled out a reserve side— the Fire only conceded three goals in total. The Men In Red need as much defensive stability as possible— and Adams could be the one to deliver.
This injury to Dax might also just keep Adams in Chicago for this season. With Canadian Raheem Edwards (Canada) and Argentine Nicolás Del Grecco (Argentina) recently joining the club, the Fire are running out of international roster spots. And with more potential international signings set to come, Fire fans realized that one or more of the younger players on the team would have to be loaned out to Tulsa to open up a spot. Given Adams’ limited playing opportunities of late— he didn’t even make the bench for last night’s game— Adams was a likely candidate to head down.
It would be a trial by fire (pun not intended) for the youngster, as the Fire’s next two matches are against defending MLS champions Toronto FC. The Canadian side have had a poor season so far but still have one of the more talented rosters in the league, and can turn on the juice at a moment’s notice. With the likes of Sebastian Giovinco and Victor Vazquez a constant creative threat, Paunovic could have Adams man mark one of them to try and limit their link up play, disrupting the Toronto attack.
It might not be the most ideal circumstance, but the injury to Dax McCarty should allow Mo Adams the chance to revitalize his Chicago Fire career.