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Under Pressure: Chicago Fire vs New York Red Bulls Preview

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Can the Fire get a result in their 3rd game in 8 days?

MLS: Chicago Fire at New York Red Bulls Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The sale of Przemyslaw Frankowski on Wednesday is good for the long-term health of the Chicago Fire. The 3 million dollar fee is going to help the club build in the future and is proof to all the young talent around the world that you can come to Chicago, ball out, and move on to bigger and better clubs; and the club will let you. It also increases the club’s reputation around the world as a place where talent is developed and good players can be had.

Unfortunately, with that reputation comes the reality for a fanbase that has been starved of success. In the back of your head, you’re worried that any time a player on your squad breaks out or repairs their rep, you know they’re going to be leaving. This means that it’s going to be harder and harder to keep continuity and win trophies.

As Aston Villa fans have found out with the move of Jack Grealish to Manchester City, having good players often means heartbreak when they inevitably move on to greener pastures.

There is now increased pressure on the Fire front office to get every signing right so that when players move on, they can be replaced to create or even increase the club’s chances of winning, because while their rep around the world being positive is a good thing, they still have a reputation problem at home, and the only way to fix that is winning.

Chicago Fire all-time MLS record vs New York Red Bulls: 28W-13D-20L (1-1-0 in OT)
20 GF/15 GA, 97 pts out of 183

Chicago Fire home MLS record vs New York Red Bulls: 16W-10D-5L, 52 GF / 31 GA
52 pts out of 63

Previously on…

The Red Bulls are kind of in a bit of a slump. Their last win was July 3rd in a 2-1 win over Orlando, but have struggled ever since. They’re 0-3-2 with their losses coming against DC United and the New England Revolution, with their draws coming against TFC, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati. In that time, they’ve scored only 4 goals and gave up 5.

Suggested Lineup

Navarro is still listed as out at the time of this writing, so Bornstein gets another nod at left wing-back, and Ivanov needs minutes, so he gets the start again alongside Chinonso Offor. We still don’t know if Shuttleworth can go, and don’t be surprised if he does, but since he didn’t start midweek, Gaga Slonina gets the spot in the graphic.

Keys To The Match

Beat the Press: The last time the Fire and Red Bulls clashed, the Fire were completely undone by the Red Bulls aggressive press. In order to get something out of this game, they need to be able to quickly break the Red Bulls first level and quicky transition to take advantage of the space breaking the press creates.

This also means that the Fire’s back 4 can’t make the glaringly obvious turnovers because they’re rushing to beat the press. (Looking at you Francisco Calvo) Instead, they have to be willing to hoof the ball upfield and clear their lines and give up possession to fight another day. A lot of times, playing out and beating the press won’t be the best decision, and they have to play smart and give themselves a chance.

Shoot Often: It’s clear that the Fire cannot reliably score on quality chances. The inefficiency in front of goal has been a problem for multiple seasons now, and the transfer of Przemyslaw Frankowski just as he was starting to find his scoring form will not help. That means the Fire are going to need to rely on the quantity of scoring chances to score goals. Every attacking movement needs to end in shot weather from 6 yards or 30 yards. I want to see them pepper the goal area with shots. This also has the added benefit of not being counter-attacked if every movement ends in a goal kick so they can get back on defense instead of scrambling in transition.

How To Watch

Television: WGN-TV

Streaming: CFFC Live/ESPN+ (out of market)

Final Thoughts

I have no idea. If the Fire can consistently break the New York press and control the tempo, they should be good enough to win. But if they can’t. it’s going to be a long day.