After their first win of the season, the Chicago Fire stay at Soldier Field to face a different kind of challenge in CF Montreal. Both teams came into the season with a lot of questions and a lot of predictions for struggles, but both teams have gone in wildly different directions each week compared to the other. This week, they’ll finally meet up. Let’s check who will be available.
Ignacio Aliseda is reportedly ready to finally play for the first time since his short appearance in the season opener, but after a win last week it might not be likely for there to be too many changes in the starting lineup. So that means that Gaston Gimenez, who was out last week with a hip injury, might not be coming back just yet either. As for who’s gone, Przemyslaw Frankowski has been called up to the Polish National Team and will be playing against Russia on Tuesday, so he will be unavailable. For CF Montreal, Mason Toye, Ballou Tabla, and Zach Brault-Guillard are the notable players listed as out on the MLS Injury Report.
Here are three things to look for in Saturday’s game:
Return of Djordje
Probably the biggest story going into this game specifically is the return of Djordje Mihailovic, who was traded earlier this year for up to $1M in allocation money. Djordje was a homegrown player signed out of high school and almost immediately given a starting role on the team. But after a few years of inconsistency and playing out of position, he was deemed as fairly expendable.
I don’t blame the Chicago Fire for trading Djordje. They got value out of an asset that wasn’t paying off. I also don’t think Djordje’s bad. In fact, I believe that the trade was the best possible option for Djordje, who has been given new scenery and a coach that will play him exactly where he should be played at the 10 spot. Djordje has had a phenomenal season so far, scoring two goals and assisting another, but he might have an even better night against the Fire, who are notorious for allowing goals to former players in their first meetings.
The Best Defense is No Defense
An important thing to note from the Chicago Fire’s previous game against Inter Miami is that they were a much better team when they didn’t spend the entire game with everyone coming back to defend. It’s already been proven many times this season that even with all 11 men inside the box, the Fire cannot defend properly. So that means that the most effective way for Chicago to defend their goal is to just keep the ball from getting into their own final third.
This is easy to say, hard to do, but at the same time it should just be the mindset of the team. If bolstering the defense isn’t actually bolstering the defense, then focus on scoring. Luckily for the Fire, Miami didn’t want to press, but any team that has been watching this season knows that the Fire cannot handle a press. So the Fire just need to press harder and at least keep the ball in the midfield.
One Up, One Down
Another interesting story going into this game is how both teams are coming off of different trajectories from their previous game. CF Montreal started the season with incredibly low expectations, but somehow came out with a 4-2 win over Toronto FC. Led by Djordje Mihailovic, the team has done well up until the past couple weeks where they’ve lost to Atlanta United and then FC Cincinnati. It’s starting to look like their luck might have run out, especially with their loss being Cincinnati’s first win of the season.
On the other side of the pitch is the Chicago Fire, who started the season with aspirations towards at least making the playoffs, only to be punched down over and over on a four game losing streak where they scored just a single goal in the first game of that streak. After a win against Inter Miami, they have finally given themselves room to move and now they will want to go out and prove that they don’t need a fluke goal to win a game.
Two teams with different trajectories and something to prove. It’ll be interesting to see what comes out of it.
Chicago Fire (4-3-3): Bobby Shuttleworth; Boris Sekulic, Wyatt Omsberg, Francisco Calvo, Miguel Navarro; Alvaro Medran, Mauricio Pineda, Luka Stojanovic; Fabian Herbers, Robert Beric, Brian Gutierrez
CF Montreal (3-4-1-2): Clement Diop; Aljaz Struna, Rudy Camacho, Kamal Miller; Clement Bayiha, Samuel Piette, Victor Wanyama, Mustafa Kizza; Djordje Mihailovic; Romell Quioto, Bjorn Johnsen
How To Watch
Saturday, May 29th, 12:00 PM CDT; At Soldier Field in Chicago, IL, on WGN and online on the Chicago Fire website