Games like this are some of the most fun but least justifiable to watch. When two bad teams play against each other, it’s often fun in the worst possible way— mistakes, poor ball control, and careless fouls will always show up, and an appearance for leading goal scorer Own Goal is always a good possibility.
However, the sad bleak flipside to all this entertainment is the knowledge that your team is part of it. The acknowledgment that, yes, You’re that bad that the thing you most look forward to is playing another bad team to potentially get some joy out of the misery of the last 6 months.
That’s where the Fire and FCC find themselves with 5 games left. It’s not where either team wanted to be, come October, but it's where we are, so we might as well enjoy it. We’ve earned it.
Chicago Fire all-time MLS record vs FC Cincinnati: 1W-2D-2L, 4 GF / 2 GA, 5 pts out of 19
Chicago Fire away MLS record vs FC Cincinnati: W-2D-0L, 0 GF / 0 GA, 2 pts out of 6
As bad as the Fire has been over the last few months, It could be worse, they could be FC Cincinnati. The New York Jets of MLS haven’t won, let alone gotten points, since their 2-0 win at home against Toronto FC on September 11th. In that time, they’ve lost 4-0 to Atlanta, 4-2 to DC United, and 3-2 to that very same Toronto side. All in all, they’ve lost 7 games in a row, four of which have been at home.
Putting Luka Stojanovic in the lineup this late into the season when it feels like his option won’t be picked up ( quite possibly the dumbest decision in club history) is wishful thinking, but we’re going to be optimistic here. In other news, Stanislav Ivanov finally impressed me enough with his performance against the Revs and deserves another start. Brian Gutierrez is healthy and it will help his development if he gets minutes, and Jonathan Bornstein’s transition into some kind of center back the last few weeks has been interesting to watch, and he looks pretty good.
Keys To The Match
Control: On paper, the Fire outclasses FC Cincinnati in every way, and they need to leverage their superiority to control the game. The best thing about this club all year has been the performance of their midfield, especially Álvaro Medrán. His quality alongside the Fire’s budding star Federico Navarro should really be enough to beat FCC largely by themselves by controlling the tempo of the game as well has which team has the majority of possession. The Fire will have a plethora of goalscoring chances, and they only have to score on one or two of them to win the game if they can keep in control.
Transition Defense: It’s no secret that the Fire’s biggest Achilles Heel this season has been getting back on defense after the ball turns over. Time and again, they get caught on the counter after a poorly advised pass or a quick restart. They need to play 90 minutes of focused soccer, and they need to hustle back when things inevitably break down into a track meet, as these bad team vs bad team matchups inevitably do.
Ultimately, it’s going to be up to Fede and the center back duo to control the speed of the game and fill the holes left by the attacking fullbacks. If they manage to do their jobs, then the Fire should be able to successfully defend against breaks and not allow Cincy to get ahead.
How To Watch
Streaming: CFFC Live/ ESPN+ out of market
This game by all rights should be a cakewalk for the Fire, and it probably will be. 3-0 Fire.