The Fire travel to New York to face the New York Red Bulls this Saturday. The two teams have had very different starts, the Red Bulls are 3-2-0 to start the season, while the Fire are 1-3-1. But maybe a trip to the cauldron that is Red Bull Arena is just the match the Fire need to ignite their season.
An always outspoken Dax McCarty after the loss to the La Galaxy last Saturday called the team’s performance “below-average” adding “That’s what we are, we’re below average right now and the results speak to that.” “That’s what we are, we’re below average right now and the results speak to that. All I can do is just ask our loyal fans to stick with us. We have to turn it around, and I promise we will do anything we can to turn it around. It’s not easy times right now, we’re just lacking a little bit of quality all over the field.” He asks for fans patience while they fix things. Head Coach Veljko Paunovic had a slightly differing opinion, actually seeing improvement from the team after the LA match. He had this to say “I think it was a pretty good game and very good execution of the plan that all our guys did. I’m proud of the effort. I’m proud of the mentality. A small mistake decided the game and obviously they have quality and they converted that opportunity. But for me, most importantly, the team is growing. The team is getting better. I think we have more game now. We have more fluidity in our possession. We also create opportunities.” Both he and McCarty did agree on one thing the need to fix things. The team needs to find it’s identity and execute its style of play, it also needs to find the fire that led them to a third-place finish last season.
The Fire has also faced a long list of injuries to start the season, Both de Leeuw and Mihailovic are still recovering from the ACL injuries they suffered last year. Matt Polster the starting right back is out with a knee sprain. Part of the offensive engine of the Fire Luis Solignac is still nursing a quad injury. But the Fire did get center backs Grant Lillard and Jonathon Campbell back. Perhaps now Bastian Schweinsteiger can regain his natural position next to Dax McCarty in midfield as part of the offensive engine that sparks star striker Nemanja Nikolic’s goals. On Schweinsteiger’s paly in defense Paunovic had this to say “It depends on the game. Second half, as you could see, in one moment we moved Bastian to midfield and he brought a different dimension to the game with his capacity, understanding of the game, execution, everything. The talent that Bastian has is amazing. One day we should build a statue here in front of Bridgeview just like Michael Jordan has. So definitely he is, as I said in the past, very important for us and we appreciate a lot how much talent he has and can apply to different roles in our team.” Whatever happens Saturday it is a long season, but the Fire have a short window to start turning things around.
On Thursday March 19th it was announced that Toyota Park that has been the Fire’s home since 2006 will be called Seat Geek stadium beginning in 2019. “Throughout the years our Club – and most importantly our fans – have helped create memorable moments at this stadium,” said John Urban, COO of Chicago Fire, in a statement on the deal. “We look forward to having SeatGeek add to our home-field advantage.”