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Party Time: Chicago Fire vs Atlanta United, MLS Week 18 Preview

On the eve of Independence Day, the Fire try to help us celebrate.

MLS: Chicago Fire at Atlanta United FC Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Tomorrow the United States celebrates the signing of the Deceleration of Independence, the document that officially informed King George III that 13 of his New World colonies intended to become an independent self sustaining nation.

However, for as long as I’ve been alive, the city of Chicago has always done their celebrations on the 3rd. I’ve heard many theories over the years, but my personal belief is that it’s done that way so everyone has the 4th to recover from the various trappings of the event— cheep beer and lots of grilled food— and can than be productive on the 5th.

There will be no party for me though. I’ll be watching the Chicago Fire take on Atlanta United in what looks to be a hopeless endeavor. Josef Martinez is back from Copa America, and if there was a player in MLS that I fear watching when he plays my team, it’s him.

But there’s always some hope, no? Aleksander Katai has been playing out of his mind recently. He’s almost single-handedly kept the Fire in games, creating chances and scoring goals (Or missing off the crossbar, creating rebounds). His workrate is spectacular and he’s not afraid to get stuck in on defense. If the other players can equal his effort, they should find themselves in a better place.

Maybe then, they can give me something to celebrate.

Chicago Fire all-time MLS record vs Atlanta United: 1W-0D-4L, 4 GF / 10 GA, 3 pts out of 15

Chicago Fire home MLS record vs Atlanta United : 1W-0D-1L, 3 GF / 2 GA, 3 pts out of 6

Previously on…

Atlanta are on an excellent run of form, only losing three times in the last two months, and only once to Toronto in a June where they played five games, including two wins in the Open Cup against Charleston and Columbus, and a win over the Fire on June 1st.

Suggested Lineup

Kappelhof is still listed as questionable, so It’s 50/50 on whether he plays or not. I’d put Gutjahr and Ousted back into their starting rolls, and as much as Fabian Herbers has impressed me over the last few matches, Przemysław Frankowski’s speed is really an important weapon that may be the key to unlocking the offense. CJ Sapong is the best option at striker right now, so he starts up top.

Keys To The Match

Take Advantage: The Fire are catching Atlanta in an interesting spot. Two of their better players, Ezequiel Barco and Hector Villalba, are listed as out for the match as of yesterday’s injury report. They still have Julian Gressel and Darlington Nagbe, And Josef Martinez will be back from Copa America. However, No Barco and no Villalba mean that they’re far from full strength.

The Fire need to take advantage of the fact that ATL isn’t at full strength if they want to even have a chance at winning. They need to force Nagbe and Pity Martinez to defend more than they want to, and finally bury their attacking opportunities.

Don’t Suck: There can be no mistakes. The Fire have to have the kind of disciplined flawless performance that they’ve been missing all year. No goalkeeping errors, no defensive errors, no giveaways. Everything in this game has to be clean and precise id they want to get a win.

How To Watch

Television: N/A

Streaming: ESPN +

Final Thoughts

I’m going to be completely honest here, folks, it doesn’t look good for the Fire. My confidence in this team’s ability to perform is at an all time low, and the opponent doesn’t help much. This has the potential to be a school yard beating. 3-1 Atlanta. But hey, post game fireworks.


How are you feeling about the game? Excited for fireworks? Let us know in the comments below!