Last week the Chicago Fire showed us that they’re not the garbage fire that they’ve flirted with being at times this year. Instead, they showed us that they’re more akin to a Shakespearean tragedy. It’s as if it doesn’t really matter what they do or how good they play, at the end of the day something will happen to prevent the Fire from realizing their goals. It will happen in the worst of ways, too. A deflection will scoot under a foot, or a cross will get blown in by the wind. It’s always something.
However, It’s not yet over. The Fire get a chance to play against the hottest team in the league while, they have an opportunity to rewrite the script against the hottest team in the league, against whom they’ve never lost on the road. Chicago have played well but have nothing to show for it other than broken dreams and shattered expectations. It’s time to change that. It’s time to start winning.
Chicago Fire away MLS record vs Orlando City: 2W-3D-0L, 9 GF / 5 GA, 9 pts out of 15
Orlando are the hottest team in MLS at the moment. Since the restart, Orlando have won 4 of their first six, including a 3-1 win over Atlanta and a 2-1 win over Miami. Their only loss of the first group of games was also to Miami in a 3-2 thriller on their first game back. They also reached the Final in the MLS is back tournament, for whatever that’s worth.
CJ Sapong is finally healthy, and thus, is ready to be reinserted into the starting XI. Herbers, meanwhile, has earned his place in front of Przemysław Frankowski for the other wing spot, and should start regardless if Frankie is healthy enough to play. (He is currently listed as questionable in MLS’s injury report). The midfield has been solid, so Djordje Mihailovic is the odd man out there. And as much as I’d like to not see Francisco Calvo out there, there’s no one on the roster better than he is at the moment.
Keys To The Match
Nani, No: While Ben Miller of the Mane Land identified Mauricio Pereyra as the most impactful player on Orlando’s hot streak. For my money, it’s still Nani that has to be slowed down. Stopping him means stopping Chris Muller, their leading scorer, from getting as many goal-scoring opportunities and it should put them off enough to find the Fire opportunities to win the game.
Waste Not: One of the Fire’s big problems is that they once again are wasteful in front of goal. There were ample opportunities created by the Fire’s offense that were either whiffed or mishit or hit right at the goalkeeper. They better have been working on their finishing at training. Also helping matters is the return of CJ Sapong to the lineup. His finishing ability should increase the number of goals scored, and the more he gets back in the groove, the better that will get.
Tempo Control: Controlling the tempo on the road means something else on the road than it does at home. The home side generally will have more possession than when they’re playing in someone else’s building. This means that what the Fire needs to do to control the game is make Orlando pass the ball backward and try to make quick counters when the ball comes over the top from the back. They need to disrupt Orlando and make them uncomfortable.
How To Watch
I think it’s going to be a lot similar to last week. The Fire are going to come out blazing, but lose it a bit toward the end. I think it’s going to be a 1-1 draw.