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Too Little Too Late: NYCFC vs Chicago Fire MLS Game Preview

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MLS: New York City FC at Chicago Fire Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Beric has finally found his form. He’s scored three goals in the last two games and finally seems to be playing free and easy, and there’s a reason for that. He’s not playing for anything. The Chicago Fire are out of the playoff race and have probably already made their decision to ship him back to Europe in the same fashion DX sent the Spirit Squad back to OVW. He’s done here, and it’s too late for anything he does to matter except for in the moment they happen for him. He could go on a run and get into double-digit goals scored and it still wouldn’t change the fact that he didn’t do it when the club needed him to do it.

His time here will be labeled as a massive disappointment and rightly so. I’m glad for his future career that he’ll probably get another contract somewhere, but for the Fire, it’s too little too late.

Chicago Fire all-time MLS record vs New York City FC: 3W-5D-7L, 19 GF / 26 GA, 12 pts out of 42

Chicago Fire away MLS record vs New York City FC: 0W-2D-5L, 5 GF / 14 GA,2 pts out of 21

Previously on…

NYCFC haven't lost since their 2-0 fumble at SeatGeek Stadium on September 29th. Since then, they’ve gone 2-2-0 with draws against Atlanta and Nashville and wins vs the Red Bulls and a 6-0 dismantling of DC United.

Suggested Lineup

You’ll notice that this is basically the same lineup that the Fire trotted out against RSL bar Offor and Gutierrez up top. That’s how well I thought they played against the Utah outfit. The one change I’d consider making is Bornstein out for another centerback, but unless Carlos Terán is healthy, I can’t really think of an upgrade, fatigue or not.

Meanwhile, up top, while both changes coincidentally involve playing players who should be big parts of next year’s team this is more tactical than anything else. We talk a lot about NYCFC’s postage stamp pitch, and how you have to play narrow and through the middle because there is no real wide position. Chinonso Offor’s ability to hold the ball up and Brian Gutierrez’s ability to cut inside and deal with close quarters well is the best way for the Fire, or any other team really, to win at Yankee Stadium.

Keys To The Match

Embrace Chaos: Because of the aforementioned small field this game will be played on, games tend to be end-to-end affairs without much in the way of midfield control. The Fire must wholeheartedly embrace the frantic end to end nature of the game by quickly getting the ball upfield and finishing off all their attacks with either a shot something else that does not allow NYCFC to go on a quick counterattack themselves. Use your offense to help the defense, and maybe score a goal or two as a side effect.

Stay Compact: On the defensive end, the four players at the back need to do their best to bring order to the chaos that will inevitably come their way. As organized as the defense was against RSL, they have to be double that against a team that knows how to play well in limited spaces.

Here’s a viewing tip: Watch how wide the Fire fullbacks get and whether the centerbacks fill in some of that space instead of the ball on defense. If the Fullbacks don’t close out on crosses and instead fill passing lanes they’ll have more success than if they try to close out crosses unless it comes after a string of possession and you’ve established your low block because of the condensed nature of the pitch. There’s more value in getting creating a counter-attacking opportunity off of a clearance over potentially leaving extra space and having a runner sneak through.

How To Watch

Television: WGN-TV

Streaming: CFFC Live/ ESPN+

Final Thoughts

NYCFC just beat DC United 6-0 but the Fire have been playing well, but they’ve never won in the Bronx, and I don’t expect that to change. They’ll play them tough but come away with a loss. 2-1 to the Citizens.