I don’t know what to do with this team. On one hand, they can be the tiring thing I deal with on a weekly basis. They make so many mental errors and throw so any games away that if I didn’t write or commentate on the team, I wouldn’t bother. On the other hand, they have the potential to be great.
Last weekend, we had the former. The 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Orlando City was a snapshot of the year so far. There were plenty of bad breaks, poor refereeing, and poor execution on the part of the Fire that the end result required a real reflection of priorities and a questioning of their and subsequently, my worth.
Than you have Wednesday. Wednesday showed all of us a glimpse of everything we’ve wanted in a local soccer team. They were tough and workmanlike when they had to be, but also ruthless and efficient. They were so sublime that not even two VAR calls that tanked their game on Saturday effected the outcome even a little.
The fanbase and players deserve more Wednesdays than Saturdays. The players are good enough to give us and them what they deserve. They just have to go out there and do it.
Atlanta has not been in the best form of late. They did beat FC Dallas midweek, but before that, they had not won a game all month. Their last win before that came on August 22nd over Nashville, who would go on to drop a four spot on the five stripes two weeks later. They’re currently in tenth and are only two points ahead of the Fire.
Djordje Mihailovic is not on the official MLS injured list after he came off injured in Wednesday’s game. However, I still wouldn’t have him in the starting line up. It would be a real shame if it were to aggravate into something more serious. Plus, you can use that as an excuse to get CJ Sapong more playing time. Meanwhile, Bornstein played so well and was so steady against Houston, he’s earned another start against Atlanta.
Keys To The Match
Keep Rolling: Atlanta United are not the same Atlanta United you remember. If it wasn’t clear enough from the recent results section of the preview, Atlanta is in chaos. They fired Frank de Boer in July, and we all knew about the loss of Josef Martinez from before the lockdown. This is a team in freefall, and they’re the perfect victim for a Chicago Fire team looking to capitalize on their destruction of Houston on Wednesday.
The Fire need to essentially do the same things that were successful against Houston. Keep the pressure on early and once you gain an advantage by say, scoring a goal or two, than backing off and letting the game come to you. Once that happens, kill the game off with a counter attack or two, and you have a quick recipe for another 3 points at home.
Finishing Class: Robert Beric has either gotten tired of me bitching about him, or is fitting in better with the squad. I’m sure it’s the former, Regardless, Beric has been on a tear of late, and it’s not hard to see why. He’s showing up in the right places at the right times and converting his expected goals, where he’s ranked 6th in the league, into actual goals.
The thing he’s doing the most differently now in comparison to earlier when he was doing nothing, is that he’s staying inside. The Fire without Frankowski have switched to a more narrow attack. The ball rarely goes fully outside and when it does, it’s usually for a quick 1-2 with a fullback who passes the ball inside the box toward the endline instead of firing a cross. While Beric DID score on a cross on Wednesday, it was because of the narrowing of the usual attack that kept him in the middle instead of going off and chasing the game. This is what I want Beric to continue to do and it’s what will make him the most successful.
How To Watch
This should be easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. Atlanta is in freefall, and the Fire should be on the come-up. The Fire will win 3-1, and Atlanta’s goal will come in garbage time when it’s too late to come back.