In last week’s editorial portion of the preview, I wrote a paragraph about the Fire turning everything around and hope and spent the next paragraph tearing down that idea, trying to be irreverent about how I felt about the ball club and where they stood in relation to my feelings about the season so far. As it turned out, the first bit, about how they were playing better and still had a chance at making something out of the season was more right than the ironic telling-off I gave in the next paragraph.
So, allow me the indulgence of well actuallying myself.
Well, actually, Ruben, Ignacio Aliseda and Przemyslaw Frankowski playing together not only made for exciting soccer, but they also scored goals! They did have an opportunity to turn this thing around and boy did they take it.
Well, actually, this team has most of the pieces they need to be good. Last week against Atlanta proved it. Now they have to go and do it again.
Chicago Fire home MLS record vs Orlando City: 2W-2D-2L, 13 GF / 7 GA, 8 pts out of 18
Orlando City are taking advantage of a very weak schedule since coming back from the Nations League break. They’ve won three of their last 5 games with their wins coming against the 11th place San Jose Earthquakes, the 14th place Toronto FC and the 13th Place Inter Miami. Their two losses are both against the Red Bulls, who are currently sitting in 7th.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This is essentially the exact lineup that won against Atlanta, except the one change of Luka in for Herbers. It’s true that he hasn’t played his best the last few games, but the only way for him to get past the mental block he has from his injury is to get game minutes without getting hurt. Plus with the way the switch to 3 CBs has worked out, he doesn’t have to worry about defending all that much.
Keys To The Match
90 Minutes of Defense: This game is going to be different than the game against Atlanta for one simple reason, Atlanta has problems scoring and Orlando do not. They’ve scored twelve goals in their last four games, including a 5-0 rout of San Jose. The Fire are going to have to be completely focused on stopping Nani, Chris Mueller, and the rest of the Orlando City offense.
The bit of silver lining here is that frontman Daryl Dike is in USMNT Gold Cup camp and won’t be in the lineup. That doesn’t mean that the Fire can relax one iota, however. They’re going to need a full effort from the three center backs, and a little bit more conservative play from the wing-backs if they want to limit Orlando’s opportunities in front of goal.
The other half of this equation is that they’re going to have to defend from the front. Beric and Aliseda are going to need to pressure the Orlando CBs when they have the ball off of restarts or clearances and force them to turn the ball over, which leads us nicely into key number two.
Win In Transition: Because the Fire are going to have to play more defensively (unless Orlando concede possession, which is possible but I don’t see it happening), they’re going to have to take advantage of the turnovers and mistakes Orlando give up by countering quickly and turning these movements into shots on goal or dangerous dead-ball positions. They need to get the ball to their playmakers quickly and they need to make the right decisions with the ball.
And Aliseda and Beric need to put the ball in the back of the net. They can’t be wasteful in front of goal like early on in the season. They need to carry their momentum from the last two games into this one.
How To Watch
It all feels good at the moment. I feel so good in fact, that the Fire are going to get a point off of the second place team in the east. 2-2 final.