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Fifth Place!?: Chicago Fire vs Charlotte FC MLS Week 24 preview.

MLS: Atlanta United FC at Chicago Fire Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve reached the scoreboard-watching portion of the season. The Fire currently sits in 10th place. The teams immediately in front of them and within 3 points go all the way up to fifth place Orlando City and include FC Cincinnati, Inter Miami, Columbus Crew, and Charlotte FC as their opponents this weekend. The rest of the schedule looks like this: Orlando vs New England Revolution, Cincinnati vs Philadelphia Union, Miami at CF Montreal, Columbus vs NYCFC. There’s no other playoff six-pointer other than the Fire’s match.

What this means is that the Fire, if they win and a result or two falls their way, will be above the playoff line at the end of the weekend. But that isn’t the best-case scenario, not by a long shot. If the Fire win, and everyone else around themlosese, which is possible based on the matchups (the only favored negative result for the Fire here is Orlando and the Revs) The Fire will end the weekend in 5th place based on goal differential, the 2nd tiebreaker. From where they were at the end of June, that is an amazing achievement, one they should be proud of. But, they still have to go out and do their job.

As far as big games go, this isn’t for the title, but it may as well be.

Chicago Fire all-time MLS record vs Charlotte FC: 0W-0D-0L, 0 GF / 0 GA, 0 pts out of 0

Chicago Fire away MLS record vs Charlotte FC: 0W-0D-0L, 0 GF / 0 GA, 0 pts out of 0

Previously on…

The wheels are starting to fall off on what was a phenomenal first half of the season. Charlotte are starting to hit the expansion team wall. They lost 2 of their last three, and 3 of their last six games. and the games they won were against last place DC, Nashville, and a Pre Hector Herrera Houston team. They still have some fight in them, but I don’t know if they’re talented enough to get them over the line or if they’ll have the energy.

Suggested Lineup

Let’s start up top with the elephant in the room, I do not care what Jhon Duran said on his Instagram or what the club think about it. He’s the best striker option they have, and their best chance to win. He starts. Plus, he apologized. That should be enough for everyone else too.

Meanwhile, they’re really thin at CB due to the injury of Carlos Teran, so Mauricio Pineda will slide back alongside Rafa Czichos, allowing Gaston Gimenez back into the starting XI.

Jairo Torres’s insertion into the lineup last week proved to be a bit immature, and Brian Gutierrez should be put back into the lineup, as the team looks more dangerous with him starting at the moment. Torres’s time will come, but it’s not now.

Keys To The Match

The Midfield Advantage: A familiar face patrols the midfield for Charlotte. Brandt Bronico is their lone #6 on most days, and the success of the team oftentimes comes down to how well he plays. This leaves them vulnerable to teams with a dominant midfield.

Enter stage left, the Chicago Fire. If there’s one thing this team has, it’s a midfield that is capable of dominating a game. We’ve seen the local XI have close to 70% possession at times during the season and that kind of performance from the central midfield trio will ruin Charlotte’s competitiveness in the ladder half of the game. Bronico has one heck of an engine, but even he would succumb to the pressure of the Fire midfield if he doesn’t get any help. From there, the Fire should have no problem creating and converting chances.

Fullbacks Need to Play Well: Charlotte likes to play in an attacking 4-3-3 pushing high on the wings and quick ball movement. The Fire fullbacks need to be ready to meet the challenge. While Boris Sekulic has been better over the last two weeks, Miguel Navarro has been taken advantage of by several attacking players over the last few games. Miguel or whoever is playing left-back has to get it right to get Gaga Slonina his eleventh clean sheet of the season.

How To Watch

Time: 6:00 PM

Television: WGN-TV

Streaming: CF97 Live/ Chicago Fire App

Final Thoughts

It should be GG EZ for the Fire. 3-1 Final.