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COVID Cup: Minnesota United vs Chicago Fire MLS Game 18 Preview

They’re going to play, so we’re going to preview.

FC Cincinnati v Minnesota United FC Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

This game probably should not be happening. I’ve said that a lot since the pandemic hit and I originally called for the cancelation of the season. Subsequently, I’ve resigned myself to understand that they were going to play and that I should treat it as close to normal as I could. That all changed when it came out that Minnesota United’s game with FC Dallas was postponed because a player had tested positive.

Five days is not enough time to be sure that no one else will test positive. We don’t have reason to believe that sometime between now and game time won’t test positive, and even if you one hundred percent believe in the quality of The Loons contract tracing and ability to contain the spread to that one player, why take the risk? We’ve had first hand experience with what COVID can do to a top tier athlete with Yoan Moncada for the White Sox. It’s not fun watching someone play while recovering from the effects of the virus.

The other thing you have to think about is the preparedness of Minnesota. Today was their first day back training. How ready are they really to play tomorrow night; both physically and emotionally?

This game has no business being played right now. It should be moved to the end of the season if necessary, and canceled outright if it wouldn’t have any effect on the standings.

But we all know it’s going to be played. And so it goes.

Chicago Fire all-time MLS record vs Minnesota United : 1W-0D-2L, 4 GF / 4 GA, 3 pts out of 9

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

Previously on…

Despite being currently 5th in the West, The Loons have been on a bit of a downswing. Two scoreless draws in their last three played games and a loss to Columbus before that have them four points ahead of the last playoff place and looking for scoring solutions.

Suggested Lineup

Jonathan Bornstein, as good as he is, is 36. This would be his fourth game starting in something close to two weeks. Andre Reynolds is 19 and a bit of a risk, but when he played against DC, he was solid and didn’t look intimidated out there. Because of the nature of Bornstein’s age and Navarro needing to quarantine for two weeks, Andre should get the nod.

Meanwhile, Johan Kappelhof is back on the injured list, as is Brandt Bronico and Djordje Mihailovic. These listings, along with wanting Mauricio Pineda to play as a #6, means that for me, Wyatt Omsberg and Przemysław Frankowski come back into the squad.

Keys To The Match

Soccer in 4/4: The most important thing in this match is going to be establishing the tempo early. If the Fire can find their rhythm early, they can take advantage of a team that hasn’t been able to train for the match and force errors from their players. It’s incumbent on the front line to set the tone here. Beric and Co. should be pressing high from the jump, and they need to make quick decisive passes and runs when on the ball. Another goal inside 2 minutes would be welcome.

Make Some Noise: Communication from the back line is going to be key, especially if Reynolds starts on the left. The thing you most don’t want to have happen is for him to be left on an island having to make a decision with no good answers. This will be a real test of Calvo’s leadership competence and he needs to speak loudly and a lot if he want’s to shepherd this young left back to a successful start. And even if Andre doesn’t start, because you’re priced into pressing high up the pitch, the defense needs to be talking more so Minnesota’s attackers don’t easily get in behind.

How To Watch

Television: WGN-TV

Streaming: ESPN+

Kickoff: 7 p.m. CT

Final Thoughts

My final thought is that the game should be postponed.

2-1 Fire.