Chicago Fire host Colorado Rapids in need of goals, three points

Bastian Schweinsteiger and the Chicago Fire seek their second victory of the 2019 MLS season when they host the Colorado Rapids. (Chicago Fire Soccer Club)

By Ernesto Hernandez

 

The Chicago Fire look to get back in the win column as they take on the Colorado Rapids at SeatGeek Stadium.

This will be the Fire’s seventh game of the season and the fifth one at home. It’s a glitch in the schedule that they’ve yet to take advantage of, having only won once in the previous four home fixtures.

They’re coming off a disappointing 1-1 draw against the Vancouver Whitecaps where we witnessed the two sides of the Fire: a dominant first-half where they created goal scoring opportunities but failed to convert and a disjointed second-half where a goalkeeping error led to Vancouver’s lone goal.

Head coach Veljko Paunovic has stressed that his team needs to get on a winning streak and there’s no better time than the present.

Three Things to Watch
Can the Fire’s offense spring to life?

One of the talking points coming out of the Vancouver game was the team’s lack of finishing in the final third. The Fire are able to create chances but their forwards look rushed when it comes time to put the ball in the back of the net. Paunovic stated as much.

There’s no better opponent to face when the offensive is in a slump than the Colorado Rapids. The Rapids come into the game with the worst defensive record in MLS. In only seven games, their defense has conceded 19 goals. If Chicago can’t score more than once, then it’s time to start getting worried.

The availability of Przemyslaw Frankowski

One of the Fire’s big offseason acquisition was Przemyslaw Frankowski. But the Polish international has been sidelined the past few games with a groin injury. Despite the good display CJ Sapong and the inclusion of Nicolas Gaitan, Frankowski has been a big miss for the club.

His pace on the wing and ability to go at defenders is vital when trying to break down defenses and was sorely missed in the game versus Vancouver. Fortunately for the Fire, Colorado isn’t a team that likes to sit back but having a player of his caliber out injured will always be noticeable.

Cleaning up defensive mistakes

One of the trends rearing its ugly head from last season is the lapses of concentration on defense that lead to goals. There have already been a handful of occasions where that’s happened and it’s cost the Fire a win and the three points.

With Paunovic likely to field the same back line for the third game in a row, one would hope that lack of communication would be a thing of the past and that they’ve played enough together to form some sense of understanding on the pitch.

Despite the Rapids having the worst defensive record in the league, they have managed to find the back of the net on eleven occasions which is more than the Fire. They do possess some threats up top with the likes of Kei Kamara which means that if the Fire do make a mistake, it’s more likely than not that the Rapids will capitalize on those errors.

On paper, the Fire have the upper hand and should win this game. But we saw how that went against Vancouver. With back-to-back games on the road, the Fire have to make home-field advantage a thing. After all, you can’t start a winning streak until you’ve won that first game.

 

 

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