The Chicago Fire have now gone unbeaten in nine games across all competitions. The streak stretches back to May 6th and includes seven wins with two on the road. The Men In Red earned their ninth win of the season on Saturday when they held on to a 2-1 win against the New England Revolution in Foxborough, MA.
Forwards Nemanja Nikolic and Luis Solignac combined well in the absence of David Accam. The pair were excellent to finish their limited chances on goal, in stark contrast to the New England Revolution who squandered a good many. The abundance of missed chances, last ditch tackles, and goal line scrambles made Saturday heart stopping entertainment for even the most neutral of viewer. The 2017 Fire can add ‘riding their luck’ to a list of qualities this year’s team has over the club’s previous editions.
Chicago Fire Look to Extend Unbeaten Run to Ten Against Orlando City
Going Dutch in Defence
Chicago Fire center back Johan Kapplehoff repeatedly stood out as a force on Saturday within a superb display of team defense. His name is littered across Saturday’s game notes with his immense display. The 26-year-old defender made a number of important tackles in the open field and put in numerous last moment challenges on the Revolution’s scoring opportunities. The young Dutch defender and center back partner Joao Meira consistently denied entry and pressured New England’s shots attempts.
The Fire’s defensive effort combined with misfires from the Revolution were enough to get the Fire three points. Kappelhoff’s performance Saturday was quite remarkable and earned himself man of the match consideration. The Ajax trained Dutchman has been a quiet but important piece of the Fire’s turnaround season.
Early in the year it looked as though the Fire had a soft underbelly. They looked very vulnerable from crosses and were caught out in passing at the back. Chicago’s defense however has become a strength. In addition to personnel changes this defensive strength appears to be built on committed team performances as well as individual improvements.
Bastian Schweinsteiger and Dax McCarty are big pieces of this defensive effort as well. Schweinsteiger did a lot of dropping into the backline Saturday, providing both defensive cover and means to restart their possession passing game. The system is working well right now as the Fire boast the fourth stingiest defensive record in the league.
Chicago Fire star winger David Accam raised eyebrows with his absence in New England. Saturday’s given reason of ‘recovery purposes’ was confirmed by the club on Monday as “simply a rest opportunity that Pauno gave to David.” With a history of injuries incurred on turf surfaces, ‘recovery purposes’ may have been a diplomatic way of having the player avoid playing on the field turf at Gillette Stadium.
A fresh David Accam will be a welcome weapon as Orlando City come out to Toyota Park this weekend. Chicago battled to a scoreless draw down in Florida against a nine-man Lions team on June 4th. Points earned away from home are valuable but many minds know full well the Fire would be in first place had they bagged a goal down in the wetlands of Orlando City Stadium.
The Fire are a different beast at home in Bridgeview. The Men In Red continue to be unbeaten at home in 2017 and should remain as such after this weekend. Orlando is having a hard time at the moment as they only have one win in their past 10 games. On top of their poor results, the Lions top scorer Cyle Larin will be out of the side as he deals with the fallout from his DUI arrest last week. Look for the Fire to come out of this match with the full three points.