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On A High: Chicago Fire vs Sporting Kansas City MLS Week 4 Preview

Ante Razov/Chris Henderson

The Fire are coming off a win vs. DC United, leaving them undefeated after 3 games and having allowed 0 goals. That’s nuts. As we begin to think of this team as good, I can’t help but feel anxious. What if this is just a positive blip and things start to slip again? What if all it takes is for them to give up one goal, then everything will go back to normal. The clock will strike 12 and the horses will turn to mice and the carriage a pumpkin.

These are my big fears at the moment, but they’re surrounded by excitement. The Fire might be good again. They have a stout defense and a goal-scoring front line, just like the teams of my youth (except 2004, but we don’t talk about 2004) They have arguably the number one goalkeeping prospect in the world and one of the best young wingers coming in in a little over a month.

It’s only March, but Chicago soccer is on a high. Let’s enjoy it.

Chicago Fire all-time MLS record vs Sporting Kansas City: 26-12D-19L, 93 GF / 72 GA, 90 pts out of 171

Chicago Fire home MLS record vs SKC: 18W-3D-5L, 53 GF / 28 GA, 57 pts out of 78

Previously on…

SKC hasn’t had a spectacular start to the season, losing two of their first 3 games by multiple goals, and their only win coming by the score of 1-0 to Houston. They’ve been outscored 5-2 by their opponents and look to be struggling a bit on defense.

Also worrying for Kansas City is that their top 3 forward options, Johnny Russell, Khiry Shelton, and Daniel Salloi are listed as questionable in the MLS injury report. Their attacking options for Peter Vermes’ side might be limited to the extreme.

Suggested Lineup

Listen, the Fire are 1-2-0 (W-D-L) to start the year and haven’t been scored on. Changing the defensive front would be folly at this point. Rafael Czichos has exceeded all expectations and has become the undisputed team leader. And Wyatt Omsberg has stepped his game up to become as solid a center back there is in MLS.

The only change to the squad is Fede in for Pineda. If Fede is 90 minutes fit, he has to start as he’s the one element this team has been missing. I have Gastón still in the lineup because his offensive contributions have been good despite his predilection for shutting off on defense, and he and Fede do play well together.

Keys To The Match

Polish Power: It’s high time to get Kacper Przybylko involved in the offense. All things considered, he's played pretty well. He’s created a ton of space and occupied center-backs well enough for others to get scoring opportunities. It’s time to reward him for his hard work. Shaqiri, Ivanov, and Herbers heed to get him the ball in good scoring positions and get his Chicago Fire goal scoring account underway. It’s imperative that you get your number 9 going early, so he’s in a rhythm come the dog days of summer. What better place to do that than against a team that’s struggling on defense.

High Pressure: As previously stated, SKC may be without their top attacking options. The Fire can take advantage and press high and force SKC to make mistakes. Pressure the ball and make these attackers who don’t play much panic on the ball and create turnovers. On the flip-side, if their questionable players do play, they won’t be 100 percent. Make them play quickly and exhaust them, then go down and score at the other end off of a turnover. You are the better team. Take advantage of that.

How To Watch

Television: WGN-TV

Streaming: CF97 Live/ESPN+ out of market

Final Thoughts

This is a game the Fire should win, as they’ve been the better side for the first 3 games of the season. It’s both a nice and anxiety-inducing feeling. 2-0 Fire.