I wish I could be more excited about this game.
It’s the Chicago Fire’s first MLS meeting with FC Cincinnati. Playing a new team for the first time is supposed to be fun. There’s no history, which means no one can say for sure how this will shake out. Anything can happen— at least in theory.
The problem is that this game happened too late in the season. Which is to say— the Fire have all but thrown their season away, and there just isn’t anything left to get excited about. The supposedly historic first game between what could (and should) be two future conference rivals lands this weekend like a fart in an elevator. This is just one more lose-able game. One more night where the Fire we used to know and love slips further away.
Sometimes I really envy fans of other teams who can still get excited for things.
They beat Houston last week, but it broke a lengthy losing streak. Two weeks ago they got manhandled by Minnesota United by a 7-1 scoreline. So, Cincy aren’t exactly in a great place.
Kronholm; Gutjahr, Calvo, Marcelo, Bronico; Mihailovic, McCarty; Katai, Gaitán, Frankowski; Sapong
Bastian Schweinsteiger is suspended due to yellow card accumulation. Corrales is out. Kappelhof is questionable. This lineup is probably the best the Fire can do with what they’ve got.
Keys To The Match
Goals? In THIS Economy??: That inexplicable Atlanta game notwithstanding, the Fire have had difficulties finding the back of the net this season. They’ve been creating chances, but they haven’t been finishing them. But Cincy have conceded a whopping 44 goals this season, giving them the worst GA stat in MLS by a considerable margin. To put it simply: if the Fire can’t score against this team, then they’re well and truly hopeless.
Hold It Down, Somehow: The Fire will be missing some key members of the squad— most of them defenders, plus a midfielder who everyone is pretending is a defender. The backline was already a little wobbly; now, it’s downright decrepit. The Fire are going to have to figure out some way to keep the defense together. This game could be won or lost by how well the defenders— whoever they may be— can stay on top of things.
Meet Me In The Middle: The Fire used to have one of the strongest midfields in the league. Now? Notsomuch. We know that the middle of the park is a key to success for the Fire, and if they want to start controlling games again, they’ll have to sort their midfield out. Cincy is as good an opponent as any to build some confidence.
How To Watch
I want to be optimistic about this game, but I can’t. I just can’t.
What do you think? Can the Fire pull this one out? Let us know in the comments below!