Last Tuesday looms large. The Fire were knocked out of the Open Cup by third division Union Omaha in penalties. Despite the fact that most of their lineup were teenagers getting their first taste of professional experience, and they played well enough to win aside from some of the veterans putting in some horror show performances, it was still a disaster for the club.
Luckily for the staff and some of the players, they have to quickly shed off whatever residual effects of the week and get ready to go up to Allianz Field and take Minnesota United. This isn’t the first time this season that they’re coming back after a loss, but it is the first time they would have felt that they didn’t do all they could to win a game while losing it. This is the kind of adversity that good teams bounce back from.
It’s time to see what this team is made of.
Chicago Fire all-time MLS record vs Minnesota United: 1W-1D-2L, 6 GF / 6 GA, 4 pts out of 12
Chicago Fire away MLS record vs Minnesota United: 0W-1D-1L, 3 GF / 4 GA, 3 pts out of 4
In a lot of ways, The Loons’ start to the season mirrors the Fire’s. Both teams are seventh in their respective conferences with a similar amount of points over the first 6 games— they have eleven while the Fire has ten. But there are a few differences. Their offense does score somewhat more 8 goals scored to the Fire’s 5, but they’ve come more spread out. Their only multi-goal game this season was their 3-1 win over the Rapids last weekend.
Defensively, they’ve given up 6 goals. 1 in their win against Colorado, two against the Sounders, and one each against Austin, Nashville, and Philadelphia. They’re a tough team to break down, but it’s doable.
For all the bad that happened on Tuesday night, there were some things that stood out to me that could be potential solutions to some of the offensive problems the Fire have had in the last few games— specifically on the left.
Missael Rodriguez was better than every option the Fire have tried on the left-wing, and I’d like to see him get a run out there with the first team. It probably won’t happen, but with two weeks before Jairo Torres joins the squad and everything else stagnating the offense, you may as well give the kid a runout. Personally, I’ve been high on him since his performance in the MLS Next cup last season and I feel he would be ready to make an impact with the first team, given the opportunity.
Meanwhile, I have no clue what’s going on with Herbers and Shaq, but it’s starting to be worrying that Shaq has missed the last two games, so until we hear otherwise, he’s going to be in my lineups as a hopeful pick.
Keys To The Match
Bounce Back: For the five regular starters who played midweek in the loss to Union Omaha, (Przybylko, Miguel and Fede Navarro, Rafa Czichos, and Stanislav Ivanov) this might be the most important game of the season. The team hasn’t had to deal with a lot of adversity so far this season, really. The lack of offense hasn’t hurt them all that much, until earlier this week. So every player who played on the weekend needs to shed off the stain of the result and look forward. They need to use that hurt and humiliation to fuel them on to greater performances.
Keep On Keeping On: On defense, they need to keep doing what they’re doing. They haven’t really put a foot wrong all season, and they need to keep it up. The problem they’re going to have is that what they’re doing isn’t all that sustainable. If you extrapolate the Fire giving up 2 goals every 7 games to the end of the season, they’d give up something on the order of less than 15 goals for the entire year. That’s just un heard of. So instead, they just need to keep going until the offense can figure itself out.
How To Watch
Streaming: ESPN app (cable subscription required)
This is not a match that I think it’s possible Ezra Hendrickson lets them lose. The Fire will at least get a point in what’s probably going to be another boring affair unless Shaqiri is back. My prediction is a 0-0 draw.