In case you missed it, the Chicago Fire played Indy Eleven in a friendly on Tuesday, that they won 3-1. Normally something like an untelevised friendly with a lower division opponent wouldn’t be a blip on the radar. However, something newsworthy did happen that night. Fire homegrown talent Missael Rodriguez scored twice.
Rodriguez just signed a 4 year deal with the club that technically starts on New Years Day 2022, but he was given a runout with the rest of the reserves Tuesday, and he made the most out of his organizational showcase. After leading the U19s to a MLS Next tournament victory, he’s now coming to the senior roster with two goals and a lot of hype. I wish he could come into the setup now, but he can’t. And I can’t wait until he does.
Chicago Fire away MLS record vs CF Montreal: 2W-3D-7L, 13 GF / 19 GA, 9 pts out of 36
Montreal is not fading at the end of the season like they historically do. They have only lost once since August 14th, a 1-0 loss in Nashville on the 14th. In that time they’re 3-2-1, with wins over Toronto, Orlando, and the Red Bulls. their draws were against Cincinnati while down a player, and Philadelphia. They’ve been scoring in bunches as well. Their wins against Toronto and Orlando had a combined score of 7-3, with 4 of the goals scored coming against Orlando.
With the season basically over, my lineup dream lineup would look something like this:
Yes, for those looking, it’s a 4-4-2. The Fire’s current personnel, and unless a massive amount of roster turnover happens in the offseason, the best way to play for this squad given the talent they have is a central diamond. Sekulic and Navarro can still push up in attack giving the team width, but they don’t have any natural attacking wingers in the squad, so they should concentrate on working through the middle of the park.
All of this is possible because of the acquisition of Federico Navarro. His ability to cover so much ground frees up the need for the fire to play with a double pivot. They can push that second player forward and play another attacking-minded player, say, Brian Gutierrez (injury permitting) , instead of Gaston Gimenez who is good at what he does, but his spot is now redundant.
Meanwhile, if Aliseda is healthy again, he should slot into the second striker role where he is most comfortable, handing Luka the main attacking playmaker role. Chinonso Offor is offside less than Robert Beric and baring a Ricardo Pepi-like rise for Missael Rodriguez or a big-time striker signing in the offseason, he’s your 2022 starting striker.
Keys To The Match
Clog the Midfield: At the moment, Montreal’s best player is Djordje Mihailovic. The ex-Frie homegrown talent has flourished in French Canada. This season, he's second in assists behind Carles Gil. In order to prevent Montreal from getting anything done, you have to shut down Djordje.
The best way to get this done is to clog the midfield to make sure he doesn’t have the room he needs to work. The strategy I laid out in the lineup section would be the best way to do this; clog up the midfield and make the passing lanes so tight that Montreal have to go elsewhere to get any offense. However. regardless of how they do it, they must make it hard for Djordje Mihailovic to affect the game.
Figure Out the Offense: The Fire have a big problem. They can’t score goals. Luka Stojanovic putting the ball in the back of the net a few times aside, the Fire haven’t been able to find a consistent goal scorer for any length of time. What they have to figure out now is if they have someone who can score going into the next season, or if they have to go out and get one in the offseason to supplement the trio of young strikers they’ll have on the roster in 2022.
Chinonso Offor has been good at everything other than scoring goals. His positioning and timing on runs have been impeccable. However, he hasn’t yet gotten that killer instinct that all great strikers have. He needs to gain that, or he could be on the outside looking in once next season rolls around.
How To Watch
Streaming: CFFC Live
Teams are so close in the middle of the eastern conference quality-wise, that the things that separate them are the details, like having the ability to put the ball in the back of the net. For that reason, the Fire are at the bottom of the midfield, and will probably end up with another L in their record. 3-1 to the ex-Impact.