Match Preview: FC Cincinnati vs. Chicago Fire
|Tuesday, August 25, 2020, 5:30 PM- -|
The Fire's return to the pitch last week was uninspiring as they fell to the League-leading Columbus Crew 3-0. Despite what the final score indicated, there were some things to like about the Fire as they held their own for roughly 70 minutes of that match. Had some of their scoring chances worked in their favor, things would have turned out differently, but it is on to the next match.
This will be a historic matchup tonight as the Fire return to their old and now new home once again in Soldier Field. This will be the first home competition for the Fire this season, so expect the emotions to be high. Things will be much easier this week as the Fire matchup with FC Cincinnati, who currently occupy the eighth spot in the east with seven points. Chicago is currently in 13th but are only three points behind Cincinnati, so a win would draw them even.
If you want to pick out a bright spot leading into this match, you would have to say there is no place like home for Chicago. Over the past three seasons, no team in the MLS has a worse winning percentage on the road than the Fire. That means they tend to hold their own at home. Had they played all home games last season, the Fire would have been a postseason team.
In their last match against Columbus, Chicago struggled on both sides of the ball, but it was the offense that was frustrating. Yes, the defense allowed three goals, but two of them came in the final 10 minutes after getting worn down for 80 minutes. Offensively, the Fire outshot Columbus for the match and dictated the tempo for much of the second half. The problem all season has been finishing on target, which the Fire can't seem to do.
Defensively, look for the Fire to be a little better this time out as 19-year old Carlos Teran has been brought in for some reinforcement. With Bobby Shuttleworth looking like the keeper the remainder of the season, the defense needs to step up to help him in goal. If the defense can improve and keep teams at bay long enough, the offense should eventually find the back of the goal.
On the other hand, for Cincinnati, the defense has been their strong suit as they form the reputation of a stout defensive team. Following a 0-0 draw at New England, Cincinnati is proving to be a difficult team to break down, especially now that former Manchester United Center back Jaap Stam is part of the equation. Since his arrival as Head Coach, Cincinnati has conceded just one goal over their last four matches.
As for scoring, much like the Fire, Cincinnati has had their troubles scoring goals, but at least they can get shots on target. Adding the 20-year-old Argentine winger Alvarro Barreal will undoubtedly help the offensive output, but it may take him a few games to get used to the MLS game. This has all the makings of being a swing game for either side as a win by Chicago puts them right back in the playoff hunt while a draw or loss will have them searching for answers.
Since joining the MLS last season, FC Cincinnati has had some success against Chicago posting a 2-0-1 mark. That includes their 2-1 win at Chicago late last season, which ultimately ended the Fire's postseason hopes. This has the makings of a 1-0 or 0-0 type of game as both teams struggle to score.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 and can be seen on ESPN+.