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Some interesting Chicago Fire stat trends are emerging through three weeks

Some are, to be expected, not good. But there are some positives, too.

MLS: Chicago Fire at Atlanta United FC
Chicago Fire midfielder Luka Stojanovic (8) reacts with defender Boris Sekulic (2) after scoring a goal against Atlanta United during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

With just one point out of a possible nine through three matches, the Chicago Fire are having a rough go to start 2021. We covered that extensively in a piece on Monday.

Three games is, admittedly, a small sample size, but there a few stat trends emerging thus far that are interesting, and some point to bright spots within an otherwise gloomy season. Let’s take a look:

Boris Sekulic is having himself a nice second season with the Fire. He’s tied for third in MLS in tackles won through the first three weeks at 10, behind only Alex Ring of Austin FC and Kellyn Acosta of the Colorado Rapids. “Boki” also leads the team with two assists, and he’s played every minute thus far.

Robert Beric is third in MLS with 12 shots, behind NYCFC’s Valentin Castellanos and Seattle’s Raul Ruidiaz. That’s the good news—he’s getting off shots. The bad news is that only four of those were on target. Stats site FB Ref has Beric’s Expected Goals (xG) at 1.9, vs. just one goal scored. Hitting the woodwork several times has hurt, but it shows he might be close to having more success in front of goal.

Luka Stojanovic’s comeback season has been solid. His two goals thus far is tops on the team, and he’s outperforming his xG, which is 1.2 according to FBRef. Stojanovic has brought a lot of energy to the pitch this season, and that’s impressive when you consider he’s only now getting close to fully match fit.

Johan Kappelhof is ranked third in MLS with 10 interceptions—a stat that his centerback partner Francisco Calvo led last season.

As a team, the Fire continue to create scoring opportunities. Despite having a losing season, Chicago actually led the Eastern Conference in xG last season. Through three matches in 2021, the Fire have an xG of 4 (with three goals scored) according to FBRef, which is good for fifth best in the East. Defensively, though, they’re near the bottom of the East, with an Expected Goals Allowed (xGA) of 4.7. The Fire have actually conceded seven goals this season, second worst to only FC Cincinnati at 10.

The Fire’s actual goals allowed vs. xGA is 2.3. Is that a sign the Fire are conceding goals they shouldn’t, or is it just bad luck? Maybe a bit of both. Ezequiel Barco’s blast from 25 yards out in the Atlanta match was a freak goal, but some of the others the Fire have allowed were just plain bad.