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Derby Day: Chicago Fire vs Columbus Crew, MLS Week 20 Preview

It’s time for one of my two favorite days of the year

Andy Williams #8

The Chicago Fire vs Columbus Crew is one of the best rivalries in MLS, and the league office couldn’t care less. That’s truly disheartening, and also has nothing to do with the sad states of both team’s 2019 campaigns.

There’s no Hollywood lights like El Trafico or take place in the number one media market like the Hudson River Darby. It doesn’t have the glamour of Red Bulls vs Galaxy, or the new car smell of Seattle vs Portland.

But this fixture doesn’t need to have any of those things. It’s a good old fashioned derby between two blue collar teams with blue collar fanbases who hate each other in the best way. Both fanbases want to prove that they’re the better of the two clubs, and show up every year.

The games are always fun and fierce; they’re an absolute joy to watch. And it almost didn’t happen this year. At this time last year, this fixture was going to be Austin FC at Chicago Fire.

This rivalry is here to stay, and I couldn’t be happier.

Chicago Fire all-time MLS record vs Columbus Crew: 26W-19D-19L, 88 GF / 95 GA, 97 pts out of 189

Chicago Fire/Red Stars home MLS/NWSL record vs Columbus Crew: 16W-11D-6L), 49 GF / 37 GA, 59 pts out of 99

Previously on…

If you thought the Fire were a dumpster fire, Columbus has lost eight of their last ten league games, their two points scoring performances came in a 2-2 draw with NYCFC, and a win against LA Galaxy way back on May 8th. They do have one win in the Open cup in that time frame, but were then knocked out in the next round by Atlanta.

Suggested Lineup

It’s a 4-3-3 with one holding mid and duel number 10s. Djordje Mihailovic should be back in the lineup after his run out against Cincy, and Schweinsteiger is back from suspension, and that should put Kappelhof back on the right side. This is probably their best XI at this point, and should be the lineup we see the rest of the year (not including the goalkeeper debate) barring any changes.

Keys To The Match

Take Advantage of Columbus: The Crew are in freefall at the moment. They haven’t won since May, and have traded away both Robinho and Patrick Mullins last week. Caleb Porter’s club are looking towards the future, and are ripe to be taken advantage of. The Fire must come out ready to play and play aggressively in order to put the Crew on their back foot and take them out of the game early.

Press High: The Fire seem to have the most success when the press forward, forcing opposing defenses to make mistakes. However, a lot of times, it seems only Nico Gaitán has the energy or want to to press defenders in their own third. For a high press to be successful, every forward player has to get in on the act and help out. It can’t just be one person. If the Fire want to win not just Wednesday, but beyond Wednesday, they have to start pressing as a team.

Score Goals: I don’t think I have to elaborate much about this one. They need to start converting some of these chances they’re creating. It’s maddening to watch such good build up play be squandered by inept forward play. Seriously, get it together.

How To Watch

Television: N/A

Streaming: ESPN+

Final Thoughts

It looks like this should be another Fire win, but that’s what we said about Cincy last week, and St. Louis before that. I said on the podcast that it was going to be a 2-0 win for the Crew, and I’m sticking to it. But I hope the club can prove me wrong.

What do you think? Can the Fire get it done against their longtime rivals? Let us know in the comments below!