The maddening thing about this team is they make it impossible to just focus on the next game.
In the past week— following a win, mind you— we had these storylines swirling around the club:
- Brandon Vincent nearly getting traded to FC Cincinnati last summer in exchange for allocation money, with an eye toward signing Andrew Gutman, which, uhhh.
- The Fire traded Jorge Corrales to Montreal (good!) for a 31-year-old central midfielder (huh?).
- We apparently almost signed Vincent Kompany.
These are pretty significant stories, but it’s also all total bullshit. Not in the sense that it’s not true, but that it’s specious and hollow. And unnecessary. It’s bullshit in much the same way that national politics these days is bullshit. (Although the stakes for political bullshit are much higher and harm many more people than bad soccer can ever do.)
I wonder sometimes that if the Fire were actually any good, or at least got results, whether covering the team would still be this awful. Because everything else surrounding the club is bullshit, and it’s exhausting, for everyone. The players are exhausted, the fans are exhausted, the employees must be exhausted. Can you imagine having to go to work there? Every day?
Which makes it hard to write about this weekend’s clash with Montreal. The results don’t matter. We’re not in the playoff race, despite what the club’s social media messaging would have you believe. We’re not even playing for pride anymore. This is just another game. One step closer to the offseason.
Chicago Fire home MLS record vs Montreal Impact: 4W-3D-1L, 14 GF / 8 GA, 15 pts out of 24
So that’s a win and two losses from their last three. That win was a 4-0 beatdown of Philadelphia— which is impressive, given how good the Union are this year. But their most recent game was that completely insane 6-3 loss to Colorado. So, honestly, it’s anyone’s guess what their mentality will be like.
Ousted; Bornstein, Schweinsteiger, Calvo, Kappelhof; Bronico, McCarty; Katai, Gaitán, Sapong; Nikolic
I think Niko needs an opportunity to really get his mojo back, which is why he should start. But CJ Sapong gives us a bit of insurance. The second half substitutes will be important here.
(Also, yes, I’m putting David Ousted in goal. I realize that Kenneth Kronholm is actually going to start, because this club can never admit it made a mistake. This is called a Suggested Lineup for a reason.)
Keys To The Match
Make Yourself At Home: Chicago’s overall record against Montreal is fairly middle-of-the-road, but they tend to do pretty well at home against them. The Fire haven’t really made the most of home-field advantage this season— or for most of the past decade— and that’s something that will need to change sooner rather than later. If there’s an opportunity to get a result from Montreal, this could be the key.
Keep It Tight: The defense has been... better? Since Jonathan Bornstein signed with the Fire. He’s become something of a stabilizing presence on defense, in a season where the backline has looked lost through long stretches of games. Whatever they’re doing differently— keep doing it.
Cross Your Fingers: Nemanja Nikolic hasn’t been anywhere near top form this season. Things got bad enough that he lost his regular starting place earlier in the summer. With his goal in Houston last weekend, he finally has a chance to turn things around. Let’s hope he takes it.
How To Watch
Honestly, I’m pretty much done expecting positive things from this team in 2019. 1-1 draw.
What do you think? Can the Fire pull out a win and make it two in a row? Let us know in the comments!