Over the course of the first five weeks of the season, the Chicago Fire have been faced with games that, if they were playing at the level they should be, were winnable games. This week will be different, as the impressive Inter Miami squad arrives at Soldier Field off a victory in Cincinnati. While not one of the best teams in the league, Miami will certainly be a tough opponent for the struggling Men in Red.
This past week saw more returns for the Chicago Fire from the injury list, with Fabian Herbers having been listed as questionable for the game in DC and Carlos Teran reportedly saying that he is ready to go against Miami. It’s unlikely that Teran will start, but if he’s ready he’ll certainly come in off the bench. As for Inter Miami, Nicolas Figal, Robbie Robinson, and Kelvin Leerdam are listed as out by the MLS Injury Report, but there is no reason given for their absence.
Here are three things to look out for in this game:
Change is the Only Constant
While on the field performances have made very little changes since March, the Chicago Fire have had quite a few changes off the field. Sector Latino has finally been recognized by the club once again years after their ban. They’ve finally completed their search for a new club president by hiring Ishwara Glassman Chrein. But possibly the most consequential change this past week for the first team was the reports that David Zdrillic is no longer an assistant coach.
Coming after the Fire’s worst start in history, there were talks about head coach Raphael Wicky’s capabilities. When fans were thinking about a possible coaching change, I don’t think very many of them were expecting a change among the assistants. Wicky responded to questions about Zdrillic’s removal by stating that the two of them simply had “different visions” for the way the team should be playing. Though there are recent rumors of Zdrillic being connected to an open spot at Sheffield United, this is the best answer we’ve got as to why he’s out.
Zdrillic’s removal may not change much on the pitch, but it may show further evidence of Wicky losing the locker room. It’s not just on the pitch, but it’s within his staff.
Super Higuain Brothers
Coming into the 201 season, Inter Miami wasn’t really on anyone’s radar as one of the better teams. They have the big name Designated Players like Gonzalo Higuain, Blaise Matuidi, and Rodolfo Pizarro; but no one expected greatness out of them. And honestly, I still don’t think anyone does. But over the course of this season, one main thru-line has shown that they are still a team that demands respect from opponents.
In their two wins this season, Inter Miami has relied on late heroics from brothers Gonzalo Higuain and Federico Higuain. Federico, an MLS veteran, has been a surprisingly decisive piece of Inter’s attack, picking up a goal and two assists on the season. But the big guy is Gonzalo, who has a long history starring for Real Madrid, Napoli, Juventus, and the Argentina National Team. This year for Inter Miami, he’s scored three of his four goals this season in those wins, with two coming after the 70th minute mark.
Inter Miami may not be a hot team, but they are a team that gets hot later on in games.
Finding the Pivot
If you ever took a literature class in school that had a bit about the narrative structure of a story, you’ll probably remember the classic chart. It’s a line that charts how high the tension is, with a catalyst to make the line go up all the way to the climax. Then the climax hits and everything comes back down. That’s the one that everyone usually knows, but one of the more common structures nowadays involves something of a wave that goes up and down in tension until the final climax. The Chicago Fire haven’t just hit a trough in performances on the pitch, they’ve also hit a trough in tension.
It’s difficult to talk about what exactly the Chicago Fire need to do right now to fix things. But at this moment, it doesn’t feel like anything is being done or even can be done by the club. The roster is in such a way that very little changes can be made during the summer transfer window and the team that’s here is the team they’ve got. The only change that needs to be made is how they all play.
This game against Inter Miami may not be a turning point, but it’s time for the Chicago Fire to start looking at each game as a possible moment to turn things around. Score a goal, then score another, and keep building their way back up.
Chicago Fire (4-3-3): Bobby Shuttleworth; Miguel Angel Navarro; Wyatt Omsberg, Francisco Calvo, Boris Sekulic; Alvaro Medran, Luka Stojanovic, Gaston Gimenez; Brian Gutierrez, Robert Beric, Przemyslaw Frankowski
Inter Miami (4-2-3-1): John McCarthy; Brek Shea, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Ryan Shawcross, Joevin Jones; Blaise Matuidi, Gregore; Rodolfo Pizarro, Federico Higuain, Lewis Morgan; Gonzalo Higuain
How To Watch
Saturday, May 22nd, 5:00 PM CDT; At Soldier Field in Chicago, IL, on WGN or online through the Chicago Fire website