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I Want To Believe: Sporting Kansas City vs Chicago Fire, MLS Week 18 Preview

The Fire look to ride their high into Kansas City

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Sporting Kansas City Peter G. Aiken

I want to believe.

I want to think that Wednesday’s destruction of the five stripes is the real version of this team. I want to believe that, much like the final boss in a Square Enix game, that this team has transformed into a more powerful more terrifying version of themselves. the real boss has been revealed and it takes all the effort and knowledge gained from the 50+ hours of gameplay has granted for the player to beat them.

The problem is, with both video game analogy and the 2019 Chicago Fire, is that they’re designed to lose. The Fire, much like game bosses, have a fatal flaw, an area designed for the opposition to take advantage in order to win. For the Fire this year, it’s been the defense. The lack of natural fullbacks on this roster has forced midfielders and center backs to learn how to defend- something that takes years of experience to learn- in six weeks to three months.

We’ve beaten this horse to death and then-some, but it still bares repeating because until something changes I’ll never feel confident enough to say that the Fire have turned the corner on the season— even with the performance against Atlanta,

I wan’t to believe, but I just can’t.

Chicago Fire all time MLS record vs Sporting Kansas City: 26W-11D-16L, 91 GF / 66 GA, 77 pts out of 159

Chicago Fire away MLS record vs Sporting Kansas City: 8W-9D-11L, 40 GF / 40 GA, 33 pts out of 84

Previously on…

Sporting Kansas City are in an interesting spot. They lost their last game to LAFC by the same scoreline that the Fire beat ATL, 5-1, and they’ve won only once in their last 5 MLS league games, a win against a 10 player Columbus. Before that, there last win came on May 26th— a 3-2 win at home against Seattle Sounders.

Suggested Lineup

It’s the exact same lineup as Wednesday’s shellacking of Atlanta United. It worked. Keep doing it

Keys To The Match

Keep Scoring: Wednesday was a welcome sight. Finally, after three months of extreme inefficiency in front of goal, the floodgates opened and the goals finally came. It was glorious. Chances were finally going in, and even got a bit of luck go their way with the handball and red card.

That has to continue Saturday night. The goals must keep coming if not at the same rate, but with the same sort of verve. Sporting KC just came out on the wrong side of a 5-1 scoreline, themselves. So, we know that their defense can be had. The Fire need to take advantage of this and continue to score goals.

Discipline: The offense had their breakout game on Wednesday, so now it’s time for the defense to have theirs. Buried in the 5-1 win was the fact the D gave up a pretty dumb penalty that if the Fire’s offence weren’t finding the back of the net (as we have been accustomed to this season) probably wins the game for Atlanta; or at least, sparks a comeback. Stop making stupid plays, stay compact, and be where you need to be. I’d really like a clean sheet tomorrow.

Control the Game: I know the possession numbers are skewed a bit due to the red card, but before it the Fire were still controlling the game. The fire were utterly dominant in the first ten minutes, with the possession percentage hovering around sixty. This team is better when they have the ball, and their chances of winning go up with their possession number.

Just as important is their passing completion percentage. It was at or around ninety percent all game on Wednesday, and you could see the confidence building with every completed pass. That’s the attitude they need to bring to every match, if they want to win more games.

How To Watch

Television: NA

Streaming: ESPN+

Final Thoughts

If the Fire play like they did on Wednesday, they walk all over SKC. But I’m still not sure if they’re capable of that on a night in night out basis. After they 4-1’d the Rapids, they went to New York and let NYCFC do whatever they wanted. I worry that that could happen again.

My prediction: 3-2 Fire.

What do you think? Can the Fire keep the momentum going against SKC? Let us know in the comments below!