In a strange year of strange things, the Chicago Fire are about to embark on one of their strangest moments. Due to the travel restrictions placed on them by the Canadian government, the Montreal Impact is currently playing home games at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey. What that’s meant for Montreal is two months away from family, friends, and their home. That’s caused what was once a promising season with new manager Thierry Henry at the helm to sputter into a nose dive with a crash landing. They are what the Fire could have been... and still could be.
Watching the Impact is like looking into a mirror. It’s been since they’ve come into the league. They’re always better or worse then the Fire with the Fire’s own concepts. From being the new home of Fire fan favorite Justin Mapp to being the next and last stop of the Frank Klopas Managerial Experience to being the team that actually signed Didier Drogba, L’Impact have always felt tied to the Fire organization for better or worse. Saturday, the Fire are playing their reflection. It’s going to be uncomfortable.
Chicago Fire away MLS record vs Montreal Impact: 2W-2D-7L, 11 GF / 17 GA, 8 pts out of 33
Montreal has lost four games in a row by a combined score of 14-4; two 4-1 losses against New York Red Bulls and Philadelphia, and a pair of 3-1 defeats against Vancouver and the Revs. Going back even further, They’ve only won three of their last ten games, and all three were against other Canadian teams.
Two W’s in a row with the same lineup means just keep doing it. The only thing I could see is Miguel Navarro playing instead of Jonathan Bornstein for schedule congestion purposes, especially since Navarro is about to leave for international duty with Venezuela. The club has 5 games in the next two weeks, including this weekend, and I imagine we’ll get some rotation at some point.
Keys To The Match
Hungry Hungry Herbers : The Fire are rolling and a big reason why is that they’ve found out who their best No. 10 is. From absolutely nowhere, Fabian Herbers has become the fulcrum this team has desperately needed. He’s not a flashy playmaker with incredible footwork and vision who makes playing soccer into art. While he does have a good first touch, his passing ability and vision are just okay. What makes Herbers work is that he has something that the Fire attack has missed for a long time. He has hustle and workrate.
For as long as he’s not on the pitch, you’ll never see Herbers not doing good things. He’s always making off the ball runs and when the ball gets turned over, he’s always the first one chasing to win it back. For his efforts, he has three goals and has scored in each of the last two games. From absolutely nowhere, this is Fabian Herbers’ team. And as long as it’s working, it should stay that way. Keep feeding him in good spots and the Fire should
The Best Defense Is A Good Midfield: Along with Herbers, the thing that’s kept the Fire successful over the last week is that they’re not asking the defenders to defend all that much. A lot of the Fire’s defending is happening further up the pitch. The double pivot of Medrán and Giménez do a good job cutting off the passing lanes in midfield, and the wide midfielders are pressuring the opposing wings so much that there’s not much joy to be had there either. It’s starting to take a lot of effort to break them down to get at the soft center back pair, and the poorly organised teams the Fire have been playing recently don’t have that effort in them.
Montreal is in a similar boat. They’ve lost 4 in row and morale is probably at it’s lowest point. The Fire should keep dominating in midfield and that should give them an easy route to victory.
How To Watch
Kickoff: 6:30 p.m. CT
I really feel for Montreal here. They’re in a tough spot and emotionally exhausted. And the Fire are playing the best soccer in literal years. It’s going to be a lot like last weekend. Fire win 2-0.