The Fire have been remarkably consistent over the last month. Ever since their loss to FC Cincinnati, the (forever) Men in Red have been competitive in every game, bar the loss in Tennessee. They’ve remained competitive and have won games over the likes of Orlando City, and the Columbus Crew, who despite being in freefall, still have a talented roster and were in the playoffs until that loss to the Fire.
It’s good to see this level of positivity from a squad that so recently hit rock bottom. Raphael Wicky has instituted a new system remarkably fast that’s given his team at least a chance at winning games week in and week out while dealing with a family crisis. at a time where most other managers would just have seen out the season while preparing their CVs to find another job in the winter. He deserves credit for this much.
The players also deserve a lot of credit for sticking with it and coming out the other side more disciplined and organized. Francisco Calvo has become more responsible, curbing his ambitious play that led to disaster more often than not. And Mauricio Pineda has grown overnight into a sweeper worthy of the title. His vision that made him a promising young midfielder has helped him transform into someone who can reliably plug holes and help stabilize a defense that desperately needed it. Luka Stojanovic has become the dynamic attacker the team has needed seemingly overnight.
This is now a team you can get behind, even if things don’t work out this year, the club is trending up, and we may get a contending team sooner rather than later.
Chicago Fire all-time MLS record vs Inter Miami: 1W-0D-0L, 1 GF / 0 GA, 3 pts out of 3
Chicago Fire away MLS record vs Inter Miami: 0W-0D-0L, 0 GF / 0 GA, 0 pts out of 0
Inter are in a bit of a different place since we last left them. They’ve won 2 of their last five, but have only lost once, against NYCFC over the weekend. Just like the Fire, they’re starting to figure things out and get things together, especally upfront. Gonzalo Higuain has scored 3 times in their last 3 games and looks to be accelerating into top form.
We still don’t know the status of Medrán or Aliseda, but considering it’s a midweek game with only a day or two of recovery time, I‘m just going to assume they’re just as unavailable as they were on Sunday. That means Brian Gutierrez comes into the lineup for Elliot Collier, and Luka gets the call at the second striker position. Everything else is coalescing well enough that I don’t see any reason to change anything.
Keys To The Match
Be More Aggressive: The Fire has settled into their new defensive tactics very well. The problem is that with their new defensive setup, something has been lost in attack for the last few games. While Luka has managed to bail them out on a few occasions, the rest of the attack has been passive, not finding quality scoring opportunities. The Fire needs to start going forward with more numbers and be secure in that the defense can and will not break like they have so many other times before.
Be Quick: One of the things about inter Miami is that they’re pretty old, in terms of miles on the odometer. Blaise Matuidi is 34 and Kieran Gibbs (Yes, that Kieran Gibbs) is 31 along the left side of their formation. That means the Fire have to use their youth and quickness to get around their more experienced but less physically able defenders. This isn’t just about the speed of individuals, though. They need to play quickly with 1 or 2 touch passing to make them run around. We saw in their first game that they don’t really like to press, so the Fire should be times in the game where they have a lot of the ball. The Fire can wear them down and score late and if they do, they should come out of Ft. Lauderdale with 3 more points.
How To Watch
Streaming: CFFC Live/ESPN+ Out of market
This won’t be as easy a game as last time out when the Fire were able to win despite being in the worst form of the season. Miami are better and finding their own feet themselves after a disaster first 3 months. However, this is a game the Fire should win, even on the road. 2-1 to Chicago.