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Opportunity Knocks: Chicago Fire vs Sporting Kansas City MLS Game 19 Preview

The Fire have a chance to do something they’ve done only once this year, beat a good team.

SOCCER: OCT 07 MLS - Chicago Fire FC at Sporting Kansas City Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I was as shocked as anyone that MLS eventually made the right call about Wednesday’s match against Minnesota United. The Fire had already traveled to the Twin Cities and I had resigned myself to watching the game and praying no one on my team got COVID. Thankfully, that’s not a worry anymore (for now) and we can go on back to ignoring the world’s problems for two plus hours while we deal with watching a mediocre soccer team try to become something better.

Speaking of trying to become better, the Fire have another opportunity to prove to us and themselves that they can do just that. The last time they played against SKC, both teams were at the end of very long stretches and you could tell that neither team really wanted to be there. Tim Melia gave up an early penalty that Robert Beric missed, and the Men in Red never recovered. SKC meanwhile, were only able to score from a corner kick due to a marking error on the part of the Fire. Neither team really wanted to play that game, and the difference was that KC accepted the Fire’s gift of a goal, while the Fire sent theirs back.

I’d expect a different game Saturday, at least, from the Fire. They’ve had a full week off from playing competitive football, and should be well rested and energized coming in. This game is also being played at Soldier Field, so they have another thing going in their favor. This is a perfect opportunity for the Fire to take another step towards being a quality soccer team. The only question left is will they take it?

Chicago Fire all-time MLS record vs Sporting Kansas City/Kansas City Wizards: 12W-17D-12L, 91 GF / 68 GA, 53 pts out of 165

Chicago Fire home MLS record vs Sporting Kansas City/Kansas City Wizards: 18W-2D-5L, 51 GF / 26 GA, 56 pts out of 75

Previously on…

Since beating the Fire 1-0 a week and change ago, SKC beat Nashville 2-1, and then lost to FC Dallas 1-0. They’ve moved from 5th when they started this past week, to 3rd.

Suggested Lineup

Djordje Mihailovic should be available after being listed as questionable last time out, but Johan Kappelhof is once again out. This, combined with having not to play Wednesday due to Minnesota United’s coronavirus situation, means that the Fire can largely play their first choice XI aside from the players quarantined coming back from international duty.

Keys To The Match

Well Rested Energy: This is Sporting Kansas City’s 5th game in 15 days going all the way back to their win on October 3rd, and they already looked gassed two games into this stretch when they played the Fire. The Fire, on the other hand, are well rested. The club need to take advantage of the disparity in rest to push the pace of the game until SKC decide that they don’t want to play anymore.

Do all the usual stuff. High press, push the ball around quickly on offense and make Kansas City run around a lot. Get their legs heavy and tired before yours fall off a cliff midway through the second half and build up a multi-goal lead and you should walk away with three points.

Get the Wingers Involved: One of the things that good teams have done to the Fire to stop their momentum is pack the midfield and force them to play out wide. With the lineup the Fire have been playing, essentially two inverted wingers, this meant the crossing duties were done by the left and right back, often to disastrous results. Assuming Frankowski is back in the lineup, this gives the Fire the opportunity to get the ball wide to someone we know can put in a half decent cross, and they should use that to keep the defense honest and create more space for the likes of Herbers and Medrán to work the middle of the park and have more opportunities to effect the game.

How To Watch

Television: Univision/TUDN

Streaming: Twitter

Kickoff: 2:30 p.m. CT

Final Thoughts

This is going to be another tough game for the Fire, and I’m not sure they’re good enough. But the extra advantage in stamina should give them the edge to get all three points. 2-1 Fire.