The Chicago Fire are on the road again looking to top the MLS by overcoming their traveling troubles. The Fire have two away games this week, first they head to rebuilding Columbus Saturday before playing their game in hand in Montreal on Wednesday. If the Fire can win the upcoming matches over two teams well below them in the standings, the Fire will climb to first place by the time they meet current league leaders, Toronto FC. TFC have played one more game than Chicago and sit just three points ahead of the Men In Red. The two top sides meet at Toyota Park August 19, but the Fire must not overlook the two road matches ahead of them.
Chicago Fire Must Not Overlook Road Games Ahead Of TFC Clash
If the Men In Red play the same way they do at home, the Fire should come away as winners Saturday. Easier said than done as the Fire have only collected one point from their previous three road games. In short, the Fire need to overcome their road woes if they want to surpass Toronto. Columbus Crewe SC is currently clinging onto the sixth position in the Eastern Conference of Major League Soccer after having played at least one game more than all the other clubs below them.
The Mediocre, Fractured and now Rebuilding
The Crew appeared to be a fractured team last week and now after their deadline day deals, they appear to be a rebuilding one. They waived Dilly Duka in July and fading midfield star Federico Higuain ruffled feathers when he announced that 2017 will be his final season in black and yellow. Not the best move for the player in the midst a poor run of form on a struggling team.
Columbus then made a number of deadline day moves which positioned them well to make moves come winter. In addition to the allocation monies and assets, Columbus also landed forward Kristin Nemeth and highly rated Portuguese winger Pedro Santos as a Designated player. This is the first time the Crew will have filled all three of their DP slots. The Crew did not address their biggest problem, which is at the back, during this window but Columbus has signed and drafted a total of six defenders in 2017 and but are amongst the worst teams in MLS is conceding goals. Chicago’s midwest rival have conceded 39 goals in 24 games while the Fire have let in only 25 goals in 22 games. If Chicago start Accam and maintain their form against the struggling defense of the Crew, the Fire should create a great deal of chances in Columbus.
While the Men In Red have shown really good quality of depth in their midfield, the Fire’s squad was dangerously thin at center back and goalkeeper positions. With three games in the next seven days, what better time than now to welcome a new center back and goalkeeper. This week saw the arrival of Christian Dean, a left footed 24 year old American center back from the Vancouver Whitecaps. The third overall draft pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft will add to the pool of only three center backs in the Fire’s squad. Having struggled with a series of injuries over the past two seasons, Dean’s story as player so far is one of unfulfilled potential. A difficult story that the player shared in an emotional piece posted on the Whitecaps website in 2016. The towering center back can also be used as a left back and was well regarded off the field, being awarded with the Whitecap’s 2016 Humanitarian of the year award. If he can stay healthy, Christian Dean could be a nice pickup for the Fire.
The Fire also picked up 23 year old goalkeeper Richard Sanchez through Major League Soccer’s Allocation Process. “With Jorge [Bava’s] unfortunate injury, we were in need of adding another quality goalkeeper,” said Fire general manager Nelson Rodríguez. “Richard’s experience in big matches and his familiarity with MLS were an ideal combination.” Bava, the Uruguayan goalkeeper brought in during the offseason has been placed on the disabled list and hasn’t seen the field since Matt Lampson took the job at the beginning of May.