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Must Win: Chicago FIre vs Toronto FC MLS Week 13 Preview

MLS: Chicago Fire at Toronto FC John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The end of the month of May has a lot of meaning, especially in the sports calendar. The Monico Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500 take place on the 29th. The NBA and NHL playoffs are reaching their climax. And most relevant to us, the European soccer season is reaching its end. With the World Cup pushed back to the Christmas season, all eyes in the soccer universe will now turn to MLS and the goings on here— which means it’s time to look at the table.

If you’re a fan of the Chicago Fire football club, It’s not great. The Fire are currently in last place on 11 points, and the playoff line is at 16 points with Charlotte FC in the 7th and final spot. The good news, though, it’s that it’s not a huge jump into the playoff positions in theory. A couple of wins against a relatively easy schedule coming up should see the Fire back into the playoff positions, and in truth, you’re never really out of it in MLS. But the Fire’s comeback has to start sooner rather than later. Saturday seems like a good place to start.

Chicago Fire all-time MLS record vs Toronto FC: 9W-11D-13L, 50 GF / 58 GA, 38 pts out of 99

Chicago Fire home MLS record vs Toronto FC: 5W-6D-4L, 21 GF / 20 GA, 21 pts out of 45

Previously on…

It’s tough times for the Reds at the moment. They’re winless in their last six games in the league, with their only win coming last Tuesday against Halifax Wanderers in the Canadian Championship. They even managed a loss to Vancouver, who are bottom of the West and on the same point total as the Fire.

Suggested Lineup

The Pineda vs Fede decision, for me, is probably the hardest thing to square. Personally, I think it’s matchup dependent, and against TFC, you’d want someone more passive to control Michael Bradley so I went with Pineda. Everything else is the Fire’s first choice XI, assuming everyone is healthy. If not, Move Pineda to CB, start Fede to cover Czichos and start Jhon Duran and Brian Gutierrez over Torres and Przybylko.

Keys To The Match

Get Shaq Going: The Xherdan Shaqiri experiment has not put together the results we’ve wanted. His performances have ranged from poor to fine, but his good performances haven’t had the impact on the scoreboard we all would have wanted. Now, though, everything is coming together for the Fire. Chris Mueller is better than we’d have hoped and Jairo Torres is finding himself after an injury stalled his debut. All that’s left is to get Shaq going. To do this, the Fire need to create spaces for him to work. Dummy runs are a good start, but Shaqiri needs to continue to find spaces between the lines himself, and when he does get there, the Fire need to be faster at getting him the ball, and he needs to be faster getting the ball out.

Continue the Defensive Stabilization: After the Fire defense collapsed for a while, they’re getting back on track. Aside from the unfortunate handball against Navarro last weekend, they played pretty well against NYCFC, only giving up low percentage shots or funneling everything into the path of Gaga Slonina, who thankfully, didn’t give up any rebounds in too dangerous an area. Now it’s about improving everywhere and tightening back up. They need to give up fewer shots, low percentage or otherwise and they need to get back in the habit of being smart with the times they get aggressive on challenging attacks.

How To Watch

Date & Time: May 28th, 6 PM-ish

Television: WGN-TV

Local Streaming: CF97 Live/ Chicago Fire App

Final Thoughts

This game is absolutely winnable. The Fire need to put their chances away when they come, and I have a feeling the attack breaks through against Toronto. 3-1 Fire.