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Before The Fall: Chicago Fire vs Orlando City, MLS Week 29 Preview

The Fire are back from their 3wk+ midseason break and ready to fight for... <squints> not last place?

MLS: Chicago Fire at Orlando City SC Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports

When I was accepted to grad school many moons ago, one of my undergrad mentors urged me to take heed of Sayre’s Law. It’s usually rendered as, “Academic politics is the most vicious and bitter form of politics, because the stakes are so low.” But it has relevance outside of academia, and is usually parsed like this:

“In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake.”

Which of course brings me to this Sunday. The Fire are back from their nearly month-long break from MLS action. The playoffs are almost certainly out of reach, the US Open Cup is long gone, and there are— believe it or not— teams in MLS with worse records who will likely claim the Wooden Spoon. The team could tank and try to get better draft picks in the offseason, but if this year is any indication, the club doesn’t seem to know what to do with promising young talent anyway.

So what do we have left to play for? Pride? Their jobs? Spite?

We’ll get a better idea of how much any of that matters to this team on Sunday. A result against Orlando would go a long way toward not finishing in the bottom of the conference. It’s certainly possible the extended break will help them shake out the cobwebs and finish the season strong. They could very well decide to go balls-out against Orlando because, well, the stakes are so low. But it’s also possible that the players, like a not-insignificant number of fans, have checked out, and Sunday will be much like any other game this season.

In other words: this weekend has all the low stakes and uncertainty of the start of the season, but without any of the hope.

Happy Gameday!

Chicago Fire all-time MLS record vs Orlando City: 1W-4D-2L, 10 GF / 8 GA, 7 pts out of 21

Chicago Fire home MLS record vs Orlando City: 1W-1D-2L, 8 GF / 6 GA, 4 pts out of 12

Previously On...

A draw and two losses from their last three games. Haven’t won a game in two months. If we’re going to get a win against anybody at this point, Orlando seems like the best candidates.

Suggested Lineup

Cleveland; Vincent, Lillard, Kappelhof, Hasler; Schweinsteiger, McCarty, Bronico; Katai, Edwards, Nikolic

I’m flexible on setup here, but for me the important thing is moving Basti back to midfield and bringing Grant Lillard out from the doghouse. Also, let Stefan Cleveland ride out the rest of the season.

Keys To The Match

Score First: Ahem.

Fight For The Center: With a midfield that includes the likes of Sacha Kljestan and Will Johnson, Orlando have become quite adept in the subtle arts of shithousing. The Fire will need to be prepared to fight a midfield that will play dirty and get away with it. This is why I want Basti back in the middle— his experience will be invaluable here.

Don’t Be Shy: I mean, look, none of this matters anymore. No one’s pretending otherwise. But Pride, or at least Spite, can be powerful motivation. Don’t roll over for these jamokes. Do your jobs.

How To Watch

Television: Fox Sports 1

Streaming: Fox Sports, Fox Soccer Match Pass

Final Thoughts

Can the Fire shake out the rust and get a win at home? Let us know in the comments below!