It’s been a weird stretch of games for the Fire. Ever since they got dumpsters by Nashville, they’ve had three very good performances— minus a meltdown at the end of the DC game—but have no wins to show for it. On the one hand, it’s frustrating because much like... well... me in school, you know that they can do and be better. If they’d just put in the work and do what needs to be done, they’d have had better grades and could have gotten in to a selective enrollment school instead of the neighborhood school..... I mean, have a better record.
On the other hand, they’re outperforming a half-baked roster that doesn’t look like it’s going to get any reinforcements with a few days left in the transfer window. All the predictions of the striker position being a struggle has come to fruition, but we’re seeing positive development out of guys that absolutely needed to take a level up. Ignacio Aliseda, Álvaro Medrán, and Gastón Gímenez have all taken steps forward in their play in recent weeks. The defense has finally looked like a real defense and we even got a mistake-free performance from embattled captain Francisco Calvo.
The Fire feel like they’re on the precipice of finally putting it all together and emerging as a good team. It’s time for them to finally do it.
Chicago Fire home MLS record vs NYCFC: 2W-2D-2L, 12 GF / 12 GA, 8 pts out of 16
NYCFC is rolling over everyone and leaving destruction in their wake. In their last three games against Orlando, Columbus and Montreal, they’ve outscored their opponents 10-1. The one goal they gave up was a penalty in the 90+7th minute off of a penalty against the Crew after being up 4-0. Those three games were all in Yankee Stadium, however. They have not won on the road since their May 29th win at the Banc of California Stadium against LAFC.
No Omsberg or Herbers due to the red card and yellow card accumulation means the Fire are in an interesting position with their lineup, and could, in fact, accidentally help. The Omsberg Red opens up Luka Stojanovic’s return to the XI, as Frankowski slides over to wingback as Boris Sekulic tucks inside at right CB. Then Herbers being out means either Miguel Navarro or my preferred choice of Jonathan Bornstein slides into left wing-back to create one of the strongest lineups of the season. Chinonso Offor gets a redo at striker due to the red card not letting him get a fair shake at the goalscoring thing.
Keys To The Match
Don’t Get Caught: NYCFC are on a run. They’ve scored 10 goals in 3 games against two playoff teams and Montreal. They do so by scoring much like the Philadelphia Union do; quick decisive movements and lethal finishing. To combat this the Fire need to continue to be patient while on offense and through on defense.
One of the reasons they were so good against the Union even before the red card was that they were organized and compact at the back, allowing for what shots did get through to be saved by Eastern Conference save leader Bobby Shuttleworth. The Fire need to keep that discipline if they want to stop the goal flood coming for New York.
Use Your Width: NYCFC is not built to play from sideline to sideline. One of the things that makes them so good at home, their postage stamp of a pitch, is a detriment whenever they go play someone on a properly sized field. Frankowski and whoever is playing at left wingback, as well as the midfielders, should not be afraid to spray balls out to the corners and make New York defend 1v1 and cross into the box. Make them run and stretch themselves into leaving space for Aliseda and Offor/Beric to run into and slide balls through to put shots in on net, hopefully past Sean Johnson.
How To Watch
Streaming: CFFC Live (In the Chicago Market)
On the podcast, I said a 2-2 draw, but after spending a closer amount of time looking at NYCFC’s home and away split of the last few months, the Fire has a chance to win this game if they can continue to play well. They also have the possibility of getting blown out. We’ll see.