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Play Your Kids: Columbus Crew vs Chicago Fire, MLS Week 26 preview

The Fire travel to Ohio to play their oldest rival

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at FC Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The season is all but over. With Montreal’s win on Wednesday that moved the playoff line to plus four points and with Orlando’s game in hand— and TFC’s two games in hand, the Fire have now an almost impossible road to the postseason. It would take a monumental stroke of luck and poor performances by everyone else to get there.

Therefore, it’s time to evaluate everyone else on your roster, and get your younger players some minutes in real competitive games. Andre Reynolds II and Jeremiah Gutjahr shined against Cruz Azul in the League’s Cup and have earned some MLS starts. Djordje Mihailovic needs some playing time, and it’s now or never for Grant Lillard.

It’s time for the Fire to play their kids.

Chicago Fire all-time MLS record vs Columbus Crew: 26W-20D-19L, 90 GF / 97 GA, 98 pts out of 192

Chicago Fire away MLS record vs Columbus Crew: 10W-8D-13L, 39 GF / 58 GA, 38 pts out of 93

Previously on…

The Crew have had an up and down August. They started the month with three consecutive draws at the Earthquakes, in the Ohio Derby, and then against Toronto. They then lost in Yankee Stadium to NYCFC before winning the return match against FC Cincinnati on rivalry week.

Suggested Lineup

Reynolds, Gutjahr, Lillard, Mihailovic. Play them all.

Keys To The Match

Be Quick: One of the things that has plagued the Fire all year is that they’re not the quickest decision makers out there. A lot of the time, the actions of the players are something like half a beat late. This causes their passes to be easily read and cut out, causing breaks and goal scoring chances the other direction.

The club need to do things faster at a higher tempo. They need to make clear decisions and act on them. No more hesitation or flinching from them.

Control the Midfield: Now that the defense has largely sorted itself out and the strikers are by and large putting away the chances they get, The midfield is now the biggest point of concern for me. A large number of the turnovers and such are the fault of Dax and Nico Gaitán being careless with the ball at their feat.

Nico Gaitán in particular has gotten on the nerves as of late. I can appreciate him trying daring passes with high levels of difficulty and skill, however, it’s clear that those passes just aren’t working out for him, and it’s leading to bad things for the club. He needs to keep his passes simple and not overcomplicate things.

Have a Good Gameplan: Let’s be clear, the Columbus Crew are not very good. They’re in 11th place and haven’t been nearly as effective at procuring points as they have in past seasons. But make no mistake, this team has the ability to hurt you. Despite Federico Higuain being out for the year with an ACL thing, this team still has Artur and Gyasi Zardes, who when the opportunity strikes, can absolutely punish lazy defending and David Accam loves to play against former clubs, especially this one.

For the Fire to come out of Firehouse East with their heads held high and 3 points in the bag, they need to have a plan of attack, and they need to execute it. I don’t really care weather it’s playing defensively and looking for opportunities to counter, or if they’re looking to control the game and take the crowd out of it. The Men in Red need to have a game plan and execute it. Or else they’re going to get run over.

How To Watch

Television: N/A

Streaming: ESPN+

Final Thoughts

i want to see the kids play in a big rivalry game. It’s time to see what they got.

Prediction: 2-2 Draw.

What do you think? Can the Fire salvage some dignity against one of their fiercest rivals? Let us know in the comments!