After a brutal loss in Atlanta two weeks ago, the Chicago Fire return to Toyota Park in Bridgeview for a much needed three-game stint at home.
It’s still early, and the 2017 season for every team is very much up in the air. Even so, the Men in Red need positive results if they are to remain in a comfortable position in the Eastern Conference table. Defeating a win-less Montreal Impact on Saturday – a team that will be without the injured goal-scorer Ignacio Piatti – will be the first step.
Although Chicago fans have mostly been putting the weight of this season on the shoulders of Dax McCarty, the midfielder – although he did not play in either of the matches – is freshly back from his two-game trip to San Jose and Panama City with the USMNT. His role in the midfield is always a valuable one on both sides of the ball, but Fire fans shouldn’t expect a ravenous game from a well-traveled McCarty, who has played two FIFA World Cup Qualifying games for the United States, while everyone else received two-week break from MLS soccer thanks to FIFA’s international window.
Of course, it may not be too difficult for fans to focus their attention elsewhere anyway, as all eyes will surely be on European star, and recent Chicago addition Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Although it hasn’t been confirmed that he will be necessarily playing, head coach Veljko Paunovic hinted that he “will be available” for Saturday’s match. Whether that means Schweinsteiger will act as a starter, a sub, or simply (and a little disappointingly) a source of energy from the bench for eager fans, it will only be absolutely clear come game time.
Schweinsteiger’s time on the field aside, the anticipation the World Cup winner has brought with him will unquestionably bring Chicago Fire fans out to Toyota Park – a venue that has struggled to fill seats in recent years due to the Fire’s poor annual performances.
Following an optimistic start (minus the Atlanta game) to Chicago’s season, coupled with a sure-to-be buzzing stadium come match time, the Men in Red expect no less than three points on Saturday regardless of who does and does not play.
A quick side note: not like it matters much, but the Fire are 1-2 in games played on April Fool’s Day.