The last game of the 2022 season marks the end of an era of Chicago Fire soccer. Not only because this is (hopefully) the last jersey cycle without a red shirt (I’ve been told both 2023 and 2024 for their return) but it also marks the final time that the Fire will be on local TV for the foreseeable future. If ever again.
The Fire have had a tremendous broadcast history. There have only been two years where they have not been on TV that I can remember (the two years on ESPN+) and have consistently had one of the best MLS broadcast teams, regardless of who was in the booth. From the great play-by-play announcers like Jack Edwards and Dan Kelly and the great analysts like Frank Klopas and current WWE Raw head announcer Kevin (Patrick) Egan, the Fire always made sure that if you couldn’t be there on matchday, you had a world-class television broadcast to watch. That includes the WGN team of Tyler Terens and Tony Meola. And Tony, if you read this, I forgive you for 2000.
So, thank you to everyone involved in Chicago Fire broadcasts. Thank you to the production staff, directors, camera people, and producers. Thank you to the graphics department and engineers and everyone who made Fire broadcasts possible over the last 25 years.
The league and Apple TV have a lot to live up to.
Chicago Fire all-time MLS record vs New England Revolution: 27W-17D-24L (0-4-1 in OT), 99 GF / 92 GA, 98 pts out of 204
Chicago Fire home/away MLS record vs New England Revolution: 17W-10D-7L (0-3-0 in OT), 65 GF / 43 GA, 61 pts out of 102
The New England Revolution have had just as bad a campaign as the Fire. They’re a disappointing 10th place in the East, and as far as you can get from last year’s finish as Supporters’ Shield Winners! Some of this can be written off as poor timing, as Adam Buksa, their leading scorer and best player is no longer with the team. And the replacements they lined up, most notably Jose Altidore, have not worked out.
Their last 5 games are a microcosm of their season. Two wins bookend three losses in a row in the month of September, with their losses coming against the Red Bulls, Montreal, and 2nd-bottom Houston. They have a chance to finish on a high note against Chicago, but it’s going to be tough to finish on the road.
There are a few constraints to the lineup this last weekend. Chris Brady had been announced as the starting goalkeeper earlier in the week due to Gaga Slonina’s injury. And Rafael Czichos is out with yellow card accumulation. What you end up with then is Mo Pineda back playing emergency center back and having to start someone else in the double pivot. Miguel Navarro is listed as questionable, so Bornstein starts at left-back.
To that end, while I don’t think Javier Casas Jr. is particularly ready to start an MLS game, he’s the player between him or Kendell Burkes I think the organization should prioritize Casas’s development and start him at DM instead of Burkes at CB with Pineda staying in the pivot.
As for Shaqiri, I know what I said about him, and I still feel that way. But, the fact is that the Fire are out of 1st team players ahead of him means that he has to play. This is a good opportunity to show us he is willing and able to be the difference maker the team thought he was when they brought him in over the winter.
Keys To The Match
Play Your Game: The Chicago Fire, on paper at least, are better than the New England Revolution. They’re also at home (albeit at The Geek) This means that however the Fire decide to play, they should be the ones on the front foot and dictating the pace. They should control the ball. Tactically, they should create space up the middle and stretch the defense, then either cut inside or bomb in crosses from the flanks to late runners.
Have Fun: I don’t mean this to be glib. But even when they’re playing well, they don't really look like they’re enjoying themselves all that much. There’s a lot of yelling and griping at the referees on this team between Mueller, Shaqiri, and Miguel Navarro. To them and the rest of the squad, I just want to tell them to enjoy the game. Don’t worry about calls and things. Just enjoy the game as it happens. I guarantee you’ll play better if you’re having fun.
How To Watch
Television: WGN-TV/ ESPN whip-around show
Streaming: CF97 Live/Chicago Fire app
The Fire will end this season on a high. Duran gets to double-digit goals. 3-1 Fire.