This is my least favorite game of the season, and it’s entirely because of the venue in which it’s played. There are probably worse surfaces to play on. The artificial turf in Foxboro and Atlanta keeps injuring players, and even Soldier Field’s natural grass isn’t the greatest. But the barely legal field dimensions plus the grass on top of the infield dirt make for a uniquely horrible viewing and playing experience. It’s a u-12 field.
The good news is that they are not playing at Yankee Stadium. Another Chicago team, The White Sox are there losing to its primary tenant. The bad news is that instead of Red Bull Arena or a college stadium, they’re playing at the home of the Mets, Citi Field, so It’s unfathomable that in 2022 the defending MLS champions have to play in a stadium where not only are they not the primary tenant but have to move a home game because of a schedule conflict.
I don’t know what the league office’s problem is, but it’s long past time to force the City Football Group to find their own stadium as was promised with their entry. Maybe contraction should be on the table until then. Regardless, they should be punished for not building their own stadium. God knows they’re rich enough.
Chicago Fire away MLS record vs NYCFC: 0W-6D-2L, 5 GF / 15 GA, 2 pts out of 24
A pair of 2-0 wins against Columbus and DC headline NYCFC’s 3-game win streak in all competitions, including their win over Rochester in round 4 of the Open Cup. And in fact, the Citizens haven’t lost since Seattle knocked them out of the Champion’s League way back at the beginning of April. Their margin of victory jas been impressive as well. They’ve only had a difference of 1 goal or less twice, in a 5-4 win against TFC and their 0-0 draw with Kansas City.
Aside from maybe Fede over Pineda and Offor over the still recovering Przybylko, this is the Fire’s first choice XI for the rest of the season. All the big guns are relatively healthy and should start. The only question for me is that Rafael Czichos is still listed as questionable, and the solution for that is to drop Pineda back to CB and bring Fede Navarro in the lineup. Other than that, they should let it rip with their best on a narrow field where they shouldn’t have to run end to end as much.
Keys To The Match
fuggetaboutit: The Fire needs to forget the end of the game against the Red Bulls mid-week. Gaga needs to put his howler at his back and get back to his form from earlier in the season. That he finally made his decision on where to ply his trade internationally should help with that. He doesn’t have that particular albatross hanging over him, so he should be able to refocus on the goalkeeping part of his job.
The defense needs to recollect themselves and stand strong against one of the most prolific attacks in the league. Over the last 6 MLS matches, NYCFC have scored 18 goals. It’s imperative that the defense doesn’t let the game get away from the team early.
Be Good In Tight Spaces: The one big advantage this Fire team has on all other Fire teams that have played in a non-Kansas City baseball stadium is that they don’t like getting out wide a lot. Since there is no out wide, they don’t have to worry about that. What they do have to do is be good at close quarters passing. They need to be accurate in midfield because the game can still get stretched early if they’re not careful. No bad turnovers in dangerous places and they should at least have a shot at a point.
How To Watch
Date & Time: Sunday, May 22, 4 PM
Local Streaming: CFFC Live/ Chicago Fire App
Unfortunately, I just don’t see a win here for the Fire. NYC is on too big of a hot streak while the Fire, despite playing a little better over the last week, is still figuring things out. They can sneak out with a point if they work hard enough. 3-1 NYCFC