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MLS Nonsense: Nashville FC vs Chicago Fire MLS 2020 Game 21 Preview

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Can the Fire shut down a surging Nashville FC?

MLS: Nashville SC at Montreal Impact Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Leave it to MLS to take a rejected concept from the rest of the world and force themselves into a position where they have to use it. On Thursday, MLS HQ announced that instead of traditional points settling the standings, they were switching to points per game to decide who will make the playoffs. The reason for this change is the on-going situation in Colorado. The Rapids have missed 4 games due to COVID-19 running roughshod through out the organization. As a result, they won’t have time or opportunity to make up all those games, leading to an uneven amount of games throughout the league.

However, in the east, this won’t have a practical effect on the playoff race. All the teams are on track to play the same number of games, so PPG will reflect traditional table as it would have stood in a normal year. The only thing that’s different is that the Chicago Fire and Inter Miami have swapped places and the Fire (for the moment) have the last playoff spot. The Fire also have a game in hand, which makes the standings even more deceptive than it normally is. Don’t look at the standings until the season is over.

In a year that seems tailor made for MLS nonsense, this is the most MLS nonsense

Chicago Fire all-time MLS record vs Nashville FC: 0W-0D-0L, 0 GF / 0 GA, 0 pts out of 0

Chicago Fire away MLS record vs Nashville FC: 0W-0D-0L, 0 GF / 0 GA, 0 pts out of 0

Previously on…

Nashville are one of the hottest teams in the league. Excluding their close loss to SKC on October 11th, Nashville hasn’t lost since the end of September. They’ve gone from the bottom of the table to clinching a playoff spot in something like three weeks.

Suggested Lineup

Francisco Calvo’s red card suspension has been overturned! The MLS disciplinary committee has given Calvo clothes! CALVO IS A FREE ELF! This will pull back the Carlos Terán express at least until Mo Pineda gets his 5th yellow card. On the offensive end, the Fire really missed Fabian Herbers’ killer instinct and Frankowski didn’t play well enough to secure another start, so Djordje should move back to the wing to make way for the German #10.

Keys To The Match

Remember the first 20 minutes: In some sense, the Fire’s best game of the season was last Wednesday against the Union. The grit to come back down a player and tie the game at the end of the first half was nice, but I’m really talking about the first 20 minutes of the game where the Fire held the best team in MLS to 0 shots on goal, 40% possession, and less than 60% pass completion. The opening of the game was nothing short of awe inspiring and a glimpse into what could be if they can hold that dominance for a full 90.

Luckily, Nashville is not Philly. It should be harder for the Fire to lose that dominant position once they establish it, and they should have more opportunities to convert scoring chances. The Fire need to reproduce their dominant performance against Philadelphia. They need to be the team we know and they know they can be.

Be Compact: One of the things the Fire did so well against Philadelphia, especially after the goal and the red card, was stay compact on defense. Even a player down, they were able to successfully prevent a goal until they could tie the game and it, along with stellar goalkeeping by Bobby Shuttleworth, kept them in it.

They’re going to need more of the same to cool down the hot Nashville offense. The biggest player to stop is (obviously) Dax McCarty. This is his revenge game, and by staying compact and clogging the center of the park, the Fire can spoil Nashville’s playoff celebration party.

How To Watch

Television: WGN-TV

Streaming: ESPN+

Game Time: 7:30 CT

Final Thoughts

The Fire need to win. Nothing else is acceptable. 2-1 Fire