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Tea Time: Chicago Fire vs CF Montreal MLS Game 7 Preview

FC Cincinnati v CF Montreal Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

There’s been a lot of talk about this match, and not all of it is related to the field. Thursday night, we dropped some major tea on the website here about what happened in the Mihailovic situation between the Fire and the then Montreal Impact.

Upfront, the situation stinks. We know that something went down between the team and Djordje during the MLS is Back tournament last season, and we know that while it was put on the back burner for the rest of the season, a move was probably coming regardless of what happened. When Djordje was asked about what happened he intimated there was a disconnect between the FO and Wicky as far as bringing him back, and Heitz responded by saying that there was an offer on the table, and Djordje ghosted him.

Regardless of whether or not you believe his side was right, George Heitz was wrong to come out and respond the way he did to what Djordje said in the interview. I understand his impulse. He wanted to defend the organization and how they do business. The problem is that there was nothing to be gained by doing this. To other players, this shows that not everyone in the organization is on the same page, and may result in players not wanting to come to play here despite all the seemingly positive changes of previous ownership.

And to the fans, there was never going to be anything the FO said that would be an acceptable explanation for a wildly unpopular move. The justification for moves like this needs to be done on the field by getting results.

This is the kind of thing that ends up being bulletin board material, and if there’s one thing the Fire doesn’t need, it’s teams getting up that little bit extra when they see your name on the schedule. Talking about it helps no one.

Chicago Fire all-time MLS record vs CF Montreal: 7W-6D-8L, 30 GF / 29 GA, 28 pts out of 63

Chicago Fire home MLS record vs CF Montreal: 5W-3D-1L, 17 GF / 10 GA, 18 pts out of 27

Previously on…

Montreal has had an up and down start to the season. They lost to FC Cincinnati last week 2-1, extending their losing streak to 2 with 3 losses in their last 4 games. Their one win was 2-0 versus Inter Miami.

Suggested Lineup

The Fire are in a bit of a rough spot. Frankowski is off to Poland for the preliminary EUROS camp. Say what you want about his finishing ability, but Frankowski holds down the right-hand side with his work rate and ability to take space. Replacing him is a huge task that the Fire are, frankly, unable to do with the current roster situation. So my solution is to slide Guti over and put Offor out on the left. Both Aliseda and Gimenez are listed as questionable and should be on the bench, but them being back doesn’t mean they should start. The Nations League break should help them with their fitness, but it might be too soon to get anything more than 30 minutes out of Aliseda. Gimenez would be less of a surprise if he were to start, and that would make things easier, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he started on the bench as well.

Keys To The Match

Build on Last Week: In my “What We Learned” earlier in the week, I mentioned that I was unsure whether or not the Fire’s tactical changes would work going forward. After watching Montreal’s last few games I can say with some confidence that the changes the Fire made to the squad and their tactics should carry over nicely. Montreal are a lot like the fire in a lot of ways. Their best player is in the midfield, their defense is shaky, and their goalkeeper is not the best. The Fire should do the things that brought them success against Miami. Play balls in over the top early to create space, then as the game goes on, use your superior passing and game sense to create scoring chances.

The Best Defense is a Good Offense: The big reason why the Fire defense was so good last week is that they didn’t really have to do a whole lot. The secret for clean sheets is a combination of control and playing against an underwhelming offense, apparently. This week is shaping up to be another one of these types of games. The Fire should look to take advantage of an opponent who seems willing to let the Men in Red have the ball, and their offense doesn’t seem to be that potent. The less the Fire defense has to do, the better the outcome for the club.

Score Goals: In some sense, the Fire deserved to win last week, but they also got extremely lucky. None of the scoring opportunities were capitalized on and the team needed a blunder of epic proportions to come out on top. The Fire attackers need to put the ball in the back of the net. We seem to talk about this every week, but it’s still the biggest flaw of this club. The Fire forwards aren’t scoring and they have to score.

How To Watch

Television: WGN TV

Streaming: CFFC Live or ESPN+

Final Thoughts

After this game, the Fire are entering a 3-week break so the league can get out of the way of the CONCACAF Nations League Final. With that on the horizon, I expect the Fire to go full throttle for the entire game. 3-2 Fire win.