This past week was one of the scariest weeks of my life. Amidst all this talk of the virus-that-must-not-be-named and the ensuing panic, I woke up Tuesday shivering, in pain, and with a temperature of 102 degrees Fahrenheit. Luckily for me, I did not have the coronavirus, just the normal garden variety 72 hour flu. Even so, I kept thinking “What would happen if I did have the virus? What would my reaction be? How would I tell all of you?” That fear and train of thought put some things into perspective for me. It made me realize how lucky I am that I get to talk about soccer— talk about the Chicago Fire for public consumption. I’m so fortunate to get to have a voice in this community and to have been doing it for so long.
I wanted to take the time in the intro of the preview to say thank you. Thank you all for reading and for listening to our podcast, The North Lot. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this community for 9 years and beyond. It means a lot to me, and hopefully I’ll be around as long as I can be.
Now on to the preview.
Chicago Fire away MLS record vs New England Revolution: 10W-4D-17L, 31 GF / 46 GA, 34 pts out of 93
The Revs got off to a strong start, going up 1-0 on a Teal Bunbury goal from a corner. Ultimately, though, they fell to Thierry Henry’s Montreal Impact 2-1 after Maxi Urruti lobbed their goalkeeper in the 80th minute.
Ignacio Aliseda began training on Thursday, and Gastón Giménez trained today. Both are technically eligible to play. However, it’s unclear whether Raphael Wicky will want either player in the 18 on such limited training, let alone starting. CJ Sapong is still recovering from a chest injury, and has been ruled out by Wicky as well. As for a replacement for Brandt Bronico, there isn’t one yet, so he gets the start again.
Keys To The Match
Conquer the Turf Monster: The biggest obstacle for this team historically has been the turf. It doesn’t matter who’s coaching, playing, or owning the team— the Chicago Fire cannot for the life of them figure out a way to win on the Gillette Stadium turf. You can’t necessarily blame them. The fake grass in that stadium is truly awful despite the fact that in 2017, they actually upgraded the surface to the most technologically advanced turf. The ball still bounces more erratically here than in other stadiums with artificial grass, and because of this, the ability to play balls over the top is going to be severely hampered. In order to be successful, the Fire are going to need to keep the ball on the ground at almost all times.
Oh Bou!: All of the headlines in Boston will tell you that their new shiny DP Adam Buksa is the player the Fire have to watch out for, but I’m here to tell you that their real threat is still Gustavo Bou. Bou is powerful and smart; a deadly combination especially in MLS where the talent margins are so close to each other. Bou gives the Revs that little something extra to push them over the line against teams of similar skill. The Fire cannot give him an inch. If they do, they’ll be punished and walk out of Massachusetts with nothing.
Pay Attention: Small mental errors killed the Fire in Seattle last week. Whether it was not putting a player at the back post on corners, or having two goals called back for offside unnecessarily, the lack of focus at critical junctures in the match was the real reason for the dropped points.
Those have to be fixed sooner rather than later. The first six games on the schedule are grueling, and frankly, this is probably the most likely game to get points. The only way this team is going to win games with any regularity is focusing for 90 minutes on the task at hand. It has to start Saturday afternoon.
How To Watch
Television: WGN-TV (Chicago Area Only)
Streaming: ESPN+ (No Blackout)
I don’t like this one bit. Early afternoon kickoff on Gillette Stadium turf against a Bruce Arena side looking to wipe away the embarrassment of losing to Montreal. Saturday isn’t going to be fun. But hey, the game is on TV. So we got that going for us. Which is nice.
2-1 to the Revs