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Progress: FC Cincinnati vs Chicago Fire Preview

Here we go again.

MLS: FC Cincinnati at Chicago Fire Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

If you look at the story of the 2020 Chicago Fire, playing two games in 8 days against the worst team in Major League Soccer is exactly what the team needs. You can tell by just watching them that at certain points in games, they’re lost with no idea what to do next. But at other times, they know exactly what to do and have no problem executing their game plan. This is a team learning how to play together on the fly, and under a set of circumstances that no one ever thought they would have ever had to go through.

This is a game where the Fire can learn more about themselves. They can figure out who they are as individual players and who they are in relation to their teammates. I want to continue the good football they played in the second part of the first half against New York and last Tuesday against the same side they play next. I want to see Robert Beric get on the score-sheet and contribute to a victory. I want to see the defense finally go 90 minutes without a brain fart or misplay.

I want 90 minutes of complete soccer. I want to see some Progress.

Chicago Fire MLS record vs FC Cincinnati: 1W-1D-1L, 4 GF / 2 GA, 4 pts out of 9

Chicago Fire away MLS record vs FC Cincinnati: 0W-1D-0L, 0 GF / 0GA, 1 pt out of 3

Previously on…

After their destruction at the hands of the Fire, FC Cincinnati came back last weekend to hold DC United to a scoreless draw.

Suggested Lineup

There’s no real difference to the outfield players in the last few games and honestly, that’s fine. During the normal course of the game, there’s been times where they’ve played quite well. They just need to do it longer and more. As for goalkeeper, Shuttleworth has practiced the last two days, but more on that in a bit.

Keys To The Match

Dominate the Game: Just like last time, FC Cincinnati will crumble to pressure early and often— and not just to one kind of pressure, either. They can’t play out of the back, so high press them when you turn the ball over in the final third. The back four’s communication isn’t that good, so pressure their backline with penetrating off the ball runs. Theft can’t deal with high tempo plays, so push the ball forward with one and two-touch passing.

Find Your Confidence: This is the perfect game to find what was lost against NYCFC. The good stretches of play were outdone by the poor mistakes that led to the game getting blown wide open. The Fire need to find that form they had when they were in control of NYCFC and last week against this same squad. The key to owning the game is to play like they’re owning the game.

Play Your Kids: This one is kind of dumb and meatball-y. But hear me out, Start Gabriel Slonina in goal. The biggest reason for failure last week was Connor Sparrow making mistakes that a professional MLS level goalkeeper in net cannot make, even in their first game. On the first goal, he didn’t challenge properly and got caught on the wrong foot.

At some point in the contest, I’d also love to see Andre Reynolds II out there. What happened to him is a bit unfortunate in that both players ahead of him on the depth chart (Miguel Navarro and Jonathan Bornstein) have both played well when they’ve been on the pitch, and all of a sudden, left back has been extremely competitive. That being said, giving homegrown players a chance has never been a bad thing Because there is no US Open Cup, and because of playing against the worst team in the league, there are no easy opportunities to give your young talent minutes. In this game against this opponent, it would be a good opportunity to give some of the kids some minutes.

How To Watch

Television: WGN-TV

Streaming: ESPN+

Final Thoughts

They’re playing in Cincinnati and don’t have the emotions and tension of playing at home for the first time, so it will probably be a closer game than the last one, but the Fire should win this one comfortably. 2-0 is the final score.