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Just Win Baby: New York Red Bulls vs Chicago Fire, MLS Week 17 Preview

The Fire are going away to New Jersey needing a win to keep their playoff hopes alive

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Chicago Fire Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Let me take you behind the scenes for a second.

A few weeks ago, while editing a post from one of our other writers, I mentioned that sometimes, part of our job is stating the obvious. We know that you know a lot of what we’re saying, and that we repeat ourselves sometimes. However, some things need to be said no matter how obvious they are to everyone involved. This is one of those times.

The Fire need to start winning.

We’re more than half way through the season, and this upcoming stretch of games is crucial. Seven of the Fire’s next ten games are against Eastern Conference opposition, and all of the opponents baring FC Cincinnati are fighting for the seven available playoff positions.

This team needs to finally figure out itself. The strikers need to start striking, the defenders needs to start defending, and the midfield needs to keep everything tied together.

They better start winning. Time is running out.

Chicago Fire all-time MLS record vs New York Red Bulls/NY NJ MetroStars: 28W-12D-18L, 92 GF /74 GA, 96 pts out of 174

Chicago Fire away MLS record vs New York Red Bulls/NY NJ MetroStars: 12W-3D-13L, 43 GF / 45 GA, 36pts out of 54

Previously on…

The MetroBulls are coming off a 3-2 loss to a 10 man New England Revolution, knocking themselves out of the Open Cup. However, they’re 3-1-1 in their last 5 league games. Their biggest win was a stomping of RSL 4-0 on June 1st before blowing a 2-0 lead to lose to first place Philadelphia Union a week later.

Suggested Lineup

The only two changes I’d make are Johan Kappelhof in for Mo Adams to move Bronico back into central midfield (as much as that pains me) and Frankowski getting the start on the right wing, instead of CJ Sapong, who would start up top instead of Nemanja Nikolic. Other than that, I’d really like to see some consistency in the lineup for once. If they can get comfortable with each other, they can skip the feeling out process and ring rust that plagued them against RSL.

Keys To The Match

Come Out With Energy: They’ve had a week to shake off the rust against a Western Conference opponent, so now it’s time to perform against a an in conference one that just so happens to be five points ahead of you in the standings. The Fire need to be first to loose balls. They need to win their individual duels. And they need to out work their opponents for once if they want to get a result in New Jersey.

Be Smooth: One of the big problems with the Fire is that everything they do looks choppy. They go through periods where they can’t string three passes together, and when they do it looks like it’s taking all their skill and guile to do so. They execute in fits and starts and it looks like the visual representation of an old car struggling to start.

To win, they need to do the exact opposite. Smoother passing leads to more accurate passing, which will help accuracy. That should lead to more fluid movement and free flowing soccer. And after you establish that, you can then run your opposition off the park, creating more good scoring opportunities and subsequently, more goals.

Take Advantage of Counterattacks: Let’s face it, the Fire will not control this game. They’re going away to New York, a team who likes to have the ball at their feet. If the Men in Red want to come away with at least a point, they’re going to have to make good on their counters.

They need to transition from defense to offense quickly and efficiently, creating numbers advantages and putting the Red Bulls on their back foot. Their passing needs to be crisp and accurate. And they need to finish the chances they get.

How To Watch

Television: UniMas (Spanish Commentary)

Streaming: Twitter (English Commentary)

Final Thoughts

I think the Fire can squeak out a draw here. Red Bull Arena isn’t the worst away trip in the league, and the team has had relative historical success there. I think BWP scores for RBNY, and CJ Sapong gets one for the Fire.

How do you think the Fire will fare tomorrow night? Let us know in the comments below!