Chicago Fire vs. Columbus Crew SC | 2017 MLS Match Preview
Chicago Fire vs. Columbus Crew SC
2017 MLS Regular Season
Toyota Park – Bridgeview, Ill.
Saturday, April 8 – 2 pm ET
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Bastian Schweinsteiger may have enjoyed a solid debut with the Chicago Fire last week, but a victory evaded them. Getting back in the win column during the next round of matches is the Fire's objective, but accomplishing that will not be easy given that they face the current Eastern Conference leader.
Columbus Crew SC are set to travel to take on Chicago at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois, on Saturday, and the afternoon fixture will see Gregg Berhalter's side try and build on their 3-1-1 start to the year. Columbus are coming off their third straight win after beating Orlando City, 2-0, at home, and will likely need three points to remain atop the Eastern Conference standings.
The problem for Crew SC, however, is that they will be playing a Fire team that introduced Schweinsteiger into the fold almost seamlessly in Week 5.
"It was a great feeling,” said Schweinsteiger after scoring in his Fire debut. “Perfect cross from David [Accam] and the header [on the goal]. It was a good feeling at first, but I'm a little bit sad and not so happy that we couldn't win the game."
Schweinsteiger will try to ensure that does not happen again when he plays in his second match in front of Fire fans, as they witnessed the club blow an early lead last week before coming back to tie the Montreal Impact, 2-2, in dramatic fashion.
All eyes will be on Schweinsteiger again, but the entire Fire midfield will have to do a good job in order to prevent the likes of Justin Meram and Federico Higuain from making an impact. Veterans Dax McCarty and Juninho have already shown this season that they can play well together, but Juninho's suspension for this game due to a red card against Montreal means Veljko Paunovic has some juggling to do with his lineup.
The Fire have conceded seven goals through four matches so far, and that total is tied for second-most in the Eastern Conference. Improving the play at the back will probably be necessary in order to prevail this weekend, but the Fire attack also needs to turn it up a notch after scoring just five times this season.
- Suspended: Juninho
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT – Matt Polster (right knee strain); John Goossens (right ankle injury); Drew Conner (left lower leg injury)
Projected Starting XI (4-3-3): Jorge Bava – Brandon Vincent, Joao Meira, Jonathan Campbell, Michael Harrington – Bastian Schweinsteiger, Dax McCarty, Daniel Johnson – David Accam, Nemanja Nikolic, Arturo Alvarez
Notes: The Fire are undefeated at home so far this season through two games. They handed Real Salt Lake a 2-0 defeat in Week 2 before playing to a 2-2 draw with the Impact last week.
Columbus Crew SC
Crew SC are looking pretty good right now. The club has won its last three games by a combined score of 7-2 and posted two clean sheets in that stretch. What's more is that Meram has been impressing with his confident play, which included a two-goal performance in last week's 2-0 home triumph over Orlando City.
Even if Meram is contained, Columbus have plenty of other attacking weapons capable of doing damage given that their front line is fully healthy right now. The defense, on the other hand, might be without key offseason acquisition Jonathan Mensah. While that is a blow for Crew SC, rookie defender and Homegrown Player Alex Crognale has done an admirable job when called upon this season.
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT – Gaston Sauro (knee injury); QUESTIONABLE – Dilly Duka (calf contusion); Jonathan Mensah (hamstring strain)
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Zack Steffen – Jukka Raitala, Nicolai Naess, Alex Crognale, Harrison Afful – Artur, Wil Trapp – Justin Meram, Federico Higuain, Ethan Finlay – Ola Kamara
Notes: The match could mark the Crew SC debut of recently-acquired winger Kekuta Manneh. The talented attacker was acquired via trade late last week, but did not dress in Columbus' game vs. Orlando.
- Overall: CHI 24 wins (87 goals) … CLB 17 wins (83 goals) … Ties 17
- At CHI: CHI 14 wins (46 goals) … CLB 6 wins (36 goals) … Ties 10
Referee: Alan Kelly
Assistant Referees: Matthew Nelson, Eric Weisbrod
Fourth Official: Sorin Stoica