When I was in high school, I hated Kenny Cooper. It didn’t matter what else was happening that season, how bad Dallas was, or how good the Fire was, Kenny Cooper would waltz into Bridgeview, score a goal or three, and walk out of the Brimstone Cup. The next few days at school would suck, and I’d be feeling bad for at least the next week.
However, in recent times, this fixture has been more balanced. Each team has won their home game the last four times they’ve played against one another, the last game being a 4-0 win for the Fire in Bridgeview in 2019. The last road win was in 2013, when the Fire won 3-2. If this trend continues, the Chicago Fire will have notched their first trophy of the Ezra Hendrickson era. This game matters more than almost every other regular-season game.
If you think this trophy is silly and meaningless, you’re wrong.
Chicago Fire home MLS record vs FC Dallas: 13W-2D-8L, 1-1-0 OT 1-1 Shoutouts, 62 GF / 31 GA, 47 pts out of 69
It seems weird to say a team is hot after having two mediocre performances in their first 4 games, but FC Dallas has scored 6 goals and given up just 1 in their last two wins against Portland and Nashville. This is thanks in large part to their hat trick hero and USMNT darling Jesus Ferrera, His first-half hat trick singlehandedly buried the Timbers, and his recent performances for the national team have the hype train rolling. Alongside him are Paul Arriola and Paxton Pomykal; a pair of Americans who are looking to cement their place in Qatar.
Why break what’s working? Shaqiri and Navarro should be fully fit after their international excursions, and Czichos is fully fit after the week off. Keep riding this horse until it falters.
Keys To The Match
International Exhaustion: One of the big unknowns coming into this game is the fitness status of Paul Arriola and Jesus Ferreira. Arriola did not play against Costa Rica due to sickness. And Ferreira came on in the second half as a substitute. After playing 3 games in 7 days for the Stars and Stripes, How fit will they be? Will the planes and travel take its toll? Will Arriola be fully recovered?
And on the Fire’s end, Xherdan Shaqiri played in both of Switzerland’s friendlies and Miguel Navarro had an... encounter with Lionel Messi to finish out qualifying in COMNEBOL. What are their legs going to be like? The game will be affected by the answers to these questions, and it’s up to the Fire’s coaching staff to be able to adjust to the scenario that best takes advantage of the situation.
Keep Calm and Defend: FC Dallas plays fast, but with a high level of skill. They’ll be able to put pressure on the Fire’s defense at a moment’s notice. Through that, the Fire’s defense will need to be calm and composed, and the front four need to be on top of their trackback game. They need to trust themselves and their ability to not panic like they have been doing all year to deny Dallas the chance to burn them on the counter.
Use the Ball to Control the Game: This game is at Soldier Field, so the Fire are going to have the ball a lot early. They need to let the ball do the work to tire out FCD without spending energy themselves and then capitalize on those tired legs in the second half. When attacking, they need to be patent and not force balls through to create odd-man counterattacks. Don’t panic if the game is scoreless at half-time.
How To Watch
Television: UniMas, TUDN
Frankly, I’m scared. The Fire could easily be outmatched if Arrriola and Ferreira are 90 minutes fit, but if they’re not, this game is winnable. Chicago is currently a -105 favorite to win the game, so the betting public favor us. But I’m going to say it’s going to be a draw.