In case you haven’t heard, MLS and Liga MX, with approval from CONCACAF, starting in 2023, are turning the Leagues Cup into a World Cup formatted tournament involving every team from both leagues, and they’ll be taking a month off during the season to do this.
On the one hand, this is unquestionably a good thing. There are players on the Fire that could have used something like this to play instead of being loaned out or sitting on the bench with no chance at all of getting in the game. (I’m thinking about Andre Reynolds and Alex Monis) Between this and the return of the US Open Cup, there will be ample opportunities for younger and newer players to come into the squad and learn how to play against quality opposition.
On the other hand, MLS will have to have a big think about the schedule. The Fire are currently in the midst of a 7 games in 21 days stretch, and before then, they played several other 3 game weeks. This kind of scheduling is unsustainable as it is. What does taking a month off in the middle of the season make the schedule look like? MLS already has a congestion problem without cup competitions, and unless they figure something else out, it’s only going to get worse.
Chicago Fire all-time MLS record vs Nashville SC: 0W-1D-1L, 1 GF / 6 GA, 1 pts out of 6
Chicago Fire home/away MLS record vs Nashville SC: 0W-0D-0L, 0 GF / 0 GA, 0 pts out of 0
Nashville are rolling. Since August 1st, they’ve lost only twice, once at Inter Miami, and once against TFC. Other than that, they’ve been relatively flawless. They got their revenge against The Herons in a 5-1 rout midweek, and they’ll look to keep their momentum and secure 2nd place in the east against the Fire.
Fede has been excellent in his brief time with the Fire. but he’s played 90 minutes in both previous games this week, and should probably be rotated out today, as there are another 4 games in the next two weeks for the Fire, and you want to keep your guys as fresh as you can. The same logic can be used for starting Espinoza over Sekulic on the right and Omsberg over Bornstein.
Ignacio Aliseda needs to show us something over 90 minutes after putting in a decent substitute performance last Wednesday. He needs to start playing for his job, especially after recent his off-field issues, unless they’ve already made a decision on him. Then start Ivanov or preferably, Alex Monis in his place. It’s time to hashtag play your kids.
Keys To The Match
Slow It Down: The last time the Fire played Nashville in Nashville, they got absolutely wrecked. A large part of that was they tried to play into Nashville’s high tempo and got owned in transition. It should be easier to keep possession and control the game at home and thus control the pace, but they should also expect Nashville to challenge and press them. So they need to be quick in their decision-making while controlling the flow of the game.
Something else to think about is going to be the condition of the pitch. Notre Dame and Wisconsin are tearing up the grass in their college football tilt at the time of this writing. That’s going to mean the Fire and Nashville are going to want to play balls over the top more readily than normal.
Stay Onside: The Fire have been killed over and over this season by mental mistakes. Tactically and when they're focused, they’re capable of playing quality football, but their lack of mental acuity has let them down. Their biggest issue recently has been laziness in their attacking runs. The forwards, both Beric and Offor, but mostly Beric, have been careless in their positioning, ruining perfectly good buildups by being offside. That cannot continue for Offor if he wants to start next season, with wunderkind Jhon Duran and Missael Rodriguez joining the squad. This is Chinonso’s opportunity to plead his case, and he has to start scoring goals. That starts with being onside.
How To Watch
Streaming: CFFC Live
The Fire have virtually no chance. Their one glimmer of hope is that Nashville’s losses have come on the road against bad teams, but both Toronto and Miami have more explosiveness and present more matchup problems than the Fire do. Justin Fields is starting for the Bears at the same time, go watch that instead. 4-0 to Nashville