It’s been a tough week for the Fire, and not just because of their on-field results. The performances haven’t really been that bad if we ignore the scorelines. The actual play and the way they go about playing hasn’t really been all that bad. They’re passing the ball better than at any other point this season, and the introduction of Federico Navarro has given the team a level of grit and sand paper they’ve not had for many years.
Off the field, however, the team is starting to come apart. Two of their most important players by roster spot didn’t travel not because of injury, but because of disciplinary reasons. Their 3rd designated player has seemingly checked out, and the club captain is listed as being injured coming back from international duty where he seemed to be able to play without any problems.
Things are falling apart on the lakefront, and we all can’t wait until it’s over.
Chicago Fire home MLS record vs New England Revolution: 17W-10D-6L (0-3-0 in OT), 63 GF / 40 GA, 61 pts out of 99
The Revs have all but won the MLS Supporters Shield. They’re 10 points clear of Western Conference leader Sporting KC, and they show no signs of showing mercy. They’ve won 3 of their last 5 games with their one loss coming in a 2-0 defeat against NYCFC on the postage stamp pitch, so it hardly counts. Carles Gil leads MLS in both Assists and Key Passes, while Gustavo Bou is only 4 goals behind Ola Kamara for the golden boot.
A wee bit of squad rotation is in order for the game that takes place 72 hours after the first one. Jhon Espinoza is in for Boris Sekulic and Wyatt Omsberg comes in for Miguel Navarro to give them a day off in this 7 games in 21 days period. And in that spirit, I put Alex Monis right in the starting lineup.
Brian Gutierrez is still hurt, and Ignacio Aliseda and Gáston Gímenez should both still be in timeout. Obviously, to me at least, the spot is going to Stanislav Ivanov. He’s next on the depth chart and he’s also a young player who needs playing time. But it would be really sweet if Monis got the nod to start in the penultimate home game of the season.
Keys To The Match
Transition Defense: The Revs have one of the best attacks in the league, and certainly the best passer in Carles Gil. The Fire are pretty competent at smothering passers when they’re able to set their lines and defend. However, when the Fire are made to run toward their own goal, bad things start happening. They start leaving gaps and are all out of sorts, leading to scoring opportunities a team like New England won’t miss.
There are two ways the Fire can mitigate these problems. The first is they have to convert whatever possession they have into shots so the Revs have to restart play from goal kicks or even better, the center circle. It’s easier said than done, but if the Fire can keep the game in front of them, the Revs can’t break.
The second way is to collapse on the ball after turning over the same way as New York Red Bulls do. Two or three players need to collapse once the ball turns over to try and counter-counter; win the ball back quickly and get some 2v1s toward goal themselves. If the Fire can mitigate the Revs potential to break, they have a shot at being in the game toward the end.
Score a Goal: Every week, it feels like I’m stating the obvious every week, but to paraphrase Ozzie Guillen, if you don’t score any goals, you don’t win the ballgame. Whether it’s Chinonso Offor, Stanislav Ivanov, or even Alex Monis if he gets a runout, they have to put the ball in the back of the net. With at least two new strikers coming next season in Jhon Duran and Missael Rodriguez, now is the time to put a stamp on the striker spot for 2022, or else their Chicago Fire careers could be in question.
How To Watch
Streaming: CFFC Live/ ESPN+
The Fire always play the Revs tough, but the level in class is just too much for the Fire to handle. 3-1 to the Revs.