The streaking Chicago Fire will return home this evening to take on FC Dallas, a club that just suffered their first loss of the 2017 season on Saturday as they fell 1-0 to the San Jose Earthquakes at home, their first home loss since September of 2016.
The Fire, winners of three consecutive matches, just notched their first road victory of the season against D.C. United at RFK Stadium, their second shutout effort in as many matches. The Fire have been red-hot and climbing in the standings as of late and Dax McCarty had this to say about the club’s recent ascension to the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference this season,
“I’ve seen more improvement in the past four or five weeks with this team than I even thought would be possible,” Dax McCarty said after Saturday’s win at D.C. “I think our mentality is starting to shift from that to, ‘We can start to really do some damage in this league.’”
The Fire have been led on the score sheet this season by Hungarian Forward, Nemanja Nikolic who currently leads the MLS with 10 goals in his first 12 games of the current campaign. Nikolic will have his work cut out for him on Thursday evening as Dallas boasts the reigning MLS Defender of the Year in the form of Defender Walker Zimmerman.
Zimmerman knows that his Dallas club is sputtering as of late, only accumulating four points in their last four matches, and knows that Nikolic, the current Golden Boot leader is going to be one of the keys to extinguishing the Fire on Thursday evening.
The Fire enter Thursday evening’s match-up with Dallas undefeated at home this season, holders of an excellent 5-0-1 mark at Toyota Park in 2017, and will rely on other scorers such as Bastian Schweinsteiger, David Accam, and Michael de Leeuw to be more active this evening with the pressure that Nemanja Nikolic is likely to face from a quality Dallas defensive unit.
Dallas’ defensive unit has only allowed two goals in their last seven road matches, but have not been able to generate the offense necessary to earn victories in most of those matches, instead settling with four 0-0 draws in that stretch. Dallas will rely on the likes of Max Urruti to lead the scoring charge on Thursday as they are still missing Mauro Diaz with a torn Achilles tendon injury.
The Fire are 11-8-2 all-time versus FC Dallas in matches played at home, and 15-21-4 all-time overall versus FC Dallas. The Fire will look to win their fourth consecutive match on Thursday evening, and remain unbeaten at home this season. Catch the action on MLS Live at 7:30 pm CT.
Fire Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1)
Matt Lampson – Brandon Vincent, Joao Meira, Johan Kappelhof, Matt Polster – Dax McCarty, Bastian Schweinsteiger – David Accam, Michael de Leeuw, Luis Solignac – Nemanja Nikolic
FC Dallas Projected Starting XI (4-4-2)
Jesse Gonzalez – Hernan Grana, Walker Zimmerman, Matt Hedges, Maynor Figueroa – Michael Barrios, Carlos Gruezo, Kellyn Acosta, Roland Lamah – Tesho Akindele, Maxi Urruti