The Chicago Fire find themselves in an eerily similar position to the start of last season.
The midfield, much like last year, is their best feature. Their ability to control the tempo of their last preseason game in LA after a frantic start was inspirational, and their passing was on par with what you’d expect playoff level squad during preseason.
The forwards still have problems scoring goals. It is something to be concerned about, but I’m not sure how much of it is actually the club struggling to finish chances, or how much it’s my anxieties from last year coming back. Elliot Collier has improved exponentially from the last time we saw him in a Fire kit, and Robert Beric has gotten himself into good spots. All they have to do is put away the chances that the team create for them.
It’s defensively where the real problems lie. Their right back they brought in from Europe, Boris Sekulic, still does not have his P1 Visa secured and is unavailable for the match. This means that they’re going to have to deploy a makeshift solution once again at outside back. The person with the most reps there is Brandt Bronico. But he’s never looked comfortable there, and he was constantly taken advantage of when he’s played there in the past. With Johan Kappelhof back at center-back, unfortunately there are no other viable options available.
This all means that it may very well be a very rough start to the season, but reinforcements are coming. They’re already signed. They just need to be sealed and delivered. Until then, we’re just going to have to endure. At least we’re good at it.
Chicago Fire all-time MLS record vs Seattle Sounders: 2W-4D-8L, 15 GF / 20 GA, 10 pts out of 42
Chicago Fire away MLS record vs Seattle Sounders: 0W-2D-4L, 4 GF / 8 GA, 2 pts out of 18
The Seattle Sounders are coming off one of the most heartbreaking things that can happen to a team, a penalty shootout loss in a knockout competition. This one was to CD Olympia in a game where they were largely the better side. Olympia scored first, but goals by Cristian Roldan and Joao Paulo would have sent the Sounders on to the next round. However, Olympia tied the game and the series in the 85th minute, and then went on to advance.
This lineup is not what I wanted to see coming out of preseason. But with the news that their recently signed players not only haven’t had any preseason training with the club, but still don’t have their working papers, we’ll have to deal with it.
Keys To The Match
Be Calm: Seattle is going to come in hard and fast after the humiliation of being knocked out of the Champions League by Olympia. They’re going to press and pressure the ball, and be keen to take control early. The Fire need to not panic. They need to endure the first fifteen minutes and play with poise and grace. They need to kill the game until Seattle give up.
Keep the Tempo High: That being said, once they have control of the game, they need to be able to up the tempo quickly. Seattle played a hard 90 minutes on Thursday, where the Fire are coming in fresh as a daisy. They need to use their stamina advantage to beat tiring midfielders and defenders. The key to this is going to be getting the ball wide to CJ Sapong and Przemysław Frankowski. They’re the Fire’s fastest, most athletic players and if the Fire want to have a chance, they’re going to need big performances from those two.
Finish Chances: This is the most simple and obvious key. Even the Fire play perfectly, even if they stifle the early onslaught that we all know is coming, it doesn’t matter unless they can put the ball in the net. Robert Beric must score at least once.
How To Watch
Streaming: ESPN 3 (must have cable subscription)
After having seen Seattle be heartbroken and the Fire’s preseason games, this game is going to be harder to call than I originally thought. I’ve been saying since the schedule has been out that the Fire had no chance and were going to lose convincingly.
I’ve changed my mind.
The Fire are going to go into Seattle and get a point. The Final score will be 1-1.