Chicago Fire vs. Orlando City SC | 2017 MLS Match Preview
Chicago Fire vs. Orlando City SC
2017 MLS Regular Season
Toyota Park – Bridgeview, Illinois
Saturday, June 24 – 8:30 pm ET
WATCH: MLS LIVE
The Chicago Fire continued their on-field rejuvenation this season with a 2-1 road win over the New England Revolution last weekend, and now they turn their attention to a new goal: Beat Orlando City SC.
Turns out the Fire have never beaten Orlando City in MLS play, with their only competitive win over the Florida side since joining the league coming in the 2015 U.S. Open Cup. In league play, however, the Fire have yet to grab three points over the Lions.
It seems like now may be the time for it to happen, with Orlando City dealing with the absence of a star, on short rest and on the road, while the Fire are on an eight-game unbeaten streak in MLS play and are sitting just a point off the Supporters' Shield lead. But this is MLS – we know anything can happen.
It would be an understatement to say the Fire are playing well at the moment – they have become one of the most consistently good teams in the league in recent weeks.
During this current eight-game unbeaten run, Chicago have picked up full points in six games. While the arrivals of Bastian Schweinsteiger, MLS Golden Boot leader Nemanja Nikolic, Dax McCarty and Juninho has grabbed the headlines, the entire group is pitching in to find success at the moment.
In addition to Luis Solignac's important work as a support striker to help set up Nikolic, the Fire have found another grinder in attack in Michael de Leeuw to do much of the "dirty work" that goes unnoticed by most.
"For me, it means just work," he told the Fire's website on Wednesday. "Working for the team. Running the dirty runs for each other...winning balls for the team so that we have possession. We don't have to run the transition in defense. That, for me, is the dirty work. For me, it's natural."
De Leeuw's teammates have, in fact, noticed the work he's put in this season.
"Sometimes, it feels like Michael's playing five different positions on the field because of how much running he does and how much ground he covers, and that's something that you can't teach," McCarty said. "He's been very important for us. He's a guy that as a teammate you just want to have him on the field. You're not only going to get work rate, but you're going to get quality as well."
The Dutch striker was signed to some fanfare in 2016, but with the production from around the field and his willingness to do the work needed on both sides of the ball, the Fire look like they have the tools to be consistently good.
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT: M John Goossens (ankle surgery), GK Jorge Bava (elbow tendonitis)
Projected Starting Lineup (4-3-3): Matt Lampson – Matt Polster, Johan Kappelhof, Joao Meira, Brandon Vincent – Juninho, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Dax McCarty – Luis Solignac, Nemanja Nikolic, Michael de Leeuw
Notes: Dating back to last season Chicago have gone unbeaten in 11 straight home games. The Fire have averaged 2.3 goals per game over that stretch … Bastian Schweinsteiger is averaging 62.8 passes successful per 90 minutes played this year, the sixth most of any player in the league who has started at least five games.
Orlando City SC
Like many teams around MLS, Orlando City have pretty drastic splits between their home and road results this season. While they've racked up a 6-1-3 record in the comfy confines of Orlando City Stadium, away from home they have a 1-4-2 record in league play.
But they may find a boost from their midweek trip to Seattle, where a last-gasp goal by Scott Sutter at the death gave the Lions a 1-1 draw against the Sounders on Wednesday. No, it wasn't a win, but picking up any result, especially in a game far from home with a road record that leaves much to be desired, is a positive development.
“For me, it’s not just about the result, it’s also about the performance,” OCSC head coach Jason Kreis said on Wednesday after the draw. “I think our group now has played pretty darn well a few games in a row in MLS regular season games. So now, to continue to pick up points, it always helps.
“As a coach you can get very fatigued at times saying you’re really happy with how they’re playing when they don’t pick up points and results. So, now there’s some weight behind that message.”
That boost will be needed, especially with star striker Cyle Larin still unavailable for selection.
- Suspended: Cyle Larin (SABH program)
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: None
Projected Starting Lineup (4-4-2): Joe Bendik – PC, Jonathan Spector, Leo Pereira, Scott Sutter – Luis Gil, Will Johnson, Servando Carrasco, Matias Perez Garcia – Giles Barnes, Carlos Rivas
Notes: Going into Wednesday’s match, Orlando City have conceded only five first half goals on the road in MLS play this year, tied for the fifth lowest in the league. Unfortunately, they have scored only two first half road goals this year … In the 10 games Giles Barnes has started for Orlando this year, OCSC have averaged 1.6 points per game. In the seven games Barnes hasn’t started this year that number falls down to 1.4 points per game.
- Overall: Chicago 0 wins (6 goals), Orlando 2 wins (8 goals), 4 draws
- At Chicago: Chicago 0 wins (4 goals), Orlando 2 wins (6 goals), 1 draws
Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Assistant Referees: Eric Weisbrod, Eric Boria
Fourth Official: Juan Guzman