On August 26th, the Chicago Fire twitter account tweeted this in response to the WNBA, NBA, and MLS teams striking and refusing to play due to the escalation of racism and the police brutality that occurred in Kenosha earlier in the week.
The Fire’s response was welcome on a day where the other major sports teams either played too early to participate in this multi-sport action (the White Sox) or decided to go ahead and play anyway (the Cubs). Since then, more MLB games were postponed due to player action, including an emotional display between the Mets and the Marlins. However, the moment seems to have passed. The NBA and NBPA have come out with a joint statement saying that they’ll resume games on Saturday. Major League Baseball is scheduled to have their Jackie Robinson day tonight, and it seems counter productive to commit collective action on a day used by baseball to in part educate it’s younger fans on racism in their sport. (However, I’m sure I could be convinced otherwise.) The Chicago Fire, through no fault of their own, may have missed their moment to make a statement by postponing this match.
However, if they are going to play on Saturday, there are a two things they must do. Tyler Terens and Tony Meola on the broadcast must address the issue on the broadcast in some way, whether talking about it in pregame, or acknowledging the brave players who chose to act on the broadcast.
The club must make a statement of how they’re going to affect change in the Chicagoland area; whether that’s more inner city initiatives to help combat systemic racism, convincing Bridgeview to use SeatGeek Stadium as extra socially distant polling places, or committing themselves to anti-police brutality initiatives. The club must commit themselves to making their city, if not the world, a better place.
I don’t really know what the right decision here is. My gut says they should strike in support of the teams that didn’t play on Wednesday. There are more important things going on right now. But if they can play while resolving to create positive change, I don’t see why they shouldn’t play if they want to play. Whatever they decide to do, they should decide to do together as a unit.
Chicago Fire all-time MLS record vs New York City FC: 2W-4D-5L, 13 GF / 19GA, 10 pts out of 33
Chicago Fire away MLS record vs New York City FC: 0W-2D-4L, 4 GF / 11 GA, 2 pts out of 18
NYCFC are coming off of a 1-0 dub over Columbus, who just beat the Fire 3-0. However, aside from that huge result, they lost to the Red Bulls and Portland in their 2 games before that.
Kappelhof is still listed as out with a hip flexor, and Sapong is still away from the team at this point, so with that all being said, I expect no changes to the lineup.
Keys To The Match
Solve the Beric Problem: Robert Beric’s inability to do much of anything productive while the Fire are on attack is concerning in a way that’s both novel and all to familiar. It’s novel because every time this has happened before, there were examples of the player pulling themselves out of a slump or examples of them playing well somewhere else. Beric doesn’t have that. He hasn’t scored double digit league goals in half a decade, and weird year or no, is not adjusting to life in MLS well. It’s familiar in that he seems to be another in a long like of big name Fire striker signings that can’t score goals. From Sherjill MacDonald to Maicon Santos, strikers cannot score in a Fire uniform; red or otherwise and Beric seems no different.
If the Fire want to win, they need a striker to score goals, and If it’s not going to be Beric, they’re going to have to start someone else.
No More Postage Stamp: It wouldn’t be a match at NYCFC if I didn’t talk at least a little about the pitch. The good news is that because of the condensed baseball season, the Citizens have to play their games at Red Bull Arena instead of the barely legal Yankee Stadium outfield. The Fire can finally have a midfield third of the field to work with, and can use that to their advantage against an average midfield defense.
Play Your Game: The problem with NYCFC is that we don’t really know what to expect from them. They beat one of the best teams in the league 1-0 on Tuesday, but lost to a NYRB team that lost to FC Cincinnati earlier in the season. The best way for the Fire to come away with a result is to control possession and the tempo of the match, and not try to get into an open shootout with New York.
How To Watch
If they play, The Fire have as good a shot at winning as any other team, but I still question where the goals are going to come from. I think it’s going to finish 1-0 to NYCFC.