Chicago Fire’s Mettle To Be Tested Against Sporting KC

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From Last Word On Soccer, by Robert Kerr

The Chicago Fire face the top defensive team in Major League Soccer on Saturday at the end of a remarkable week in American Soccer. A record breaking transfer deal and a wild $4 billion dollar MLS media rights proposal were announced all before the United States Gold Cup win on Wednesday night. Chicago’s visit to Children’s Mercy Park will be the first game in Sporting Kansas City’s post Dom Dwyer era. SKC’s star striker departed the club in a record setting MLS intra-league deal sending the English-American back to Orlando City. Saturday’s match will be a new start for the Fire too as The Men In Red look to bounce back after their first loss since April. The Fire will look to get back to their previously dynamic form in a period of lineup shifts and transfer rumors.

Chicago Fire’s Mettle To Be Tested Against Sporting KC

Despite the departure of Dom Dwyer, the Fire face a tough environment in which to ‘bounce back.’ SKC hold the top defensive record in the league and are undefeated at home. Children’s Mercy Park has been a fortress for the club and boasts a staggering 97-game sellout streak. The Fire are currently five points ahead of SKC in the Supporters’ Shield race with a game in hand. Saturday’s match will be the 28th ever trip to Kansas City for the Fire, currently holding a 8-10-9 record there. Both squads should be bolstered by the return of their 2017 Gold Cup Champions, Fire captain Dax McCarty as well as SKC’s Matt Besler and Graham Zusi.

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Saturday may be an awkward affair for Veljko Paunovic’s men. The Fire showed again in New York what was seen in Orlando. The Men In Red had difficulty in adapting to a parked in defense and a general malaise in form. SKC will surely have a good plan to limit the Fire’s attack in addition to having a significant home field boost. Dax McCarty’s return should aide this problem as he was on national team duty during both of these disappointing performances. Keeping SKC off the scoreboard is an absolute must if the Fire are to win any points at Children’s Mercy Park.

Summer Distractions

The Fire’s defensive depth will also be tested with injuries to left back Brandon Vincent and center back Jonathan Campbell. The contest in Kansas City may also prove difficult as it’s the Fire’s third away game in a row and arrives just days before the MLS All Star game. Four of the Fire’s players and their head coach will participate in next Wednesday’s exhibition against Real Madrid. Fire midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger was voted captain of the 2017 MLS All Star team.

The summer transfer window has yet to net any new Men In Red at post time but there has been plenty of chatter. The main topic has been an ongoing discussion of Colombian midfielder Juan Fernando Quintero’s acquisition from FC Porto and notable interest in David Accam from Europe as well. The Fire are now thin in both the defender and goalkeeper positions. Uruguayan goalie Jorge Bava was sent to the disabled list Friday morning which leaves just Matt Lampson and rookie Stefan Cleveland in net for the Fire. Chicago’s resilience will be put to the test in Kansas City and will do well earn a result.