The rekindled Chicago Fire continued their return to relevance Saturday afternoon. The Men In Red put in another strong performance to remain undefeated at home and unbeaten in their last seven games altogether. The Fire defeated expansion side Atlanta United 2-0 to avenge a 4-0 defeat on March 18. Both teams had their chances but a first half goal from Luis Solignac and a second half Nemanja Nikolic penalty kick were enough to beat Atlanta in their first visit to Toyota Park. Saturday’s win was the Fire’s eighth, surpassing last year’s win total with 19 matches yet to be played.
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Fire Earn Results Without McCarty
Chicago Fire captain Dax McCarty had not missed a minute of the season before he joined up with the United States Men’s National Team for their World Cup qualifying campaing. The captain’s absence provided an opportunity for coach Veljko Paunovic to display his team’s depth and flexibility. Matt Polster and Juninho each started a game in McCarty’s position next to Bastian Schweinsteiger in center of midfield. Credit to the team, the Fire earned results in both matches but obviously were not the same team without McCarty. With Dax in the middle, the Fire control the ball far better and win the ball back with great tenacity. McCarty’s play also allows Schweinsteiger to play his game more freely and keeps the defense more organized. Fire fans will be happy with the results but overjoyed to see their redheaded captain return from international duty.
FT: Here's how the @ChicagoFire got it done.
Fire Enter Open Cup Action
The Men In Red do not get much time to sit back and enjoy their win against Atlanta. The team embarks on their quest to win their fifth U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday. The Fire will make a trip to Fenton, MO to take on Saint Louis FC of the USL in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup fourth round. St. Louis get to host Chicago after winning away against FC Wichita, and away again versus the Michigan Bucks. The Fire came close to an indoor match, as the Bucks of the PDL pushed and tested St Louis until the final whistle in a 2-1 game.
The trip down to Missouri could be familiar for some as the the Fire and Saint Louis FC recently had a partnership with the USL side. The match may also provide playing time for those Men In Red who’ve been spending match days on the bench. With a trip to New England looming at the weekend, players like Daniel Johnson, Arturo Alvarez and David Arshakyan may get some action in the cup game. It wouldn’t be a big shock to see veteran goalkeeper Jorge Bava return to the lineup Wednesday either. The Fire will be looking to win their fifth U.S. Open Cup, having won it previously in 1998, 2000, 2003 and 2006.