Taking a closer look at MLS Eastern Conference club Chicago Fire
Sunday is a very different and dangerous game for Vancouver Whitecaps FC. In last weekend's game against the top team in Major League Soccer, LA Galaxy inflicted a very painful 4-0 defeat on our 'Caps. This Sunday, we take on the Eastern Conference's bottom club in Chicago Fire, where we will be considered favourites to win the game as the home side. The reason it is a dangerous match for Whitecaps FC is the counter-attacking ability of the Fire.
Since interim head coach Frank Klopas took over the reigns of the Fire, Chicago have only lost two of their last ten games. After their 1-1 draw at home to Philadelphia Union on Wednesday, they now lead MLS with 13 drawn results this season.
The Fire had two players making their league debuts against Philadelphia. Argentine midfielder Sebastian Grazzini was impressive and had a couple of long-range shots that went close to goal. The other debutant was Mexican midfielder Pavel Pardo, who was capped by his country 148 times. Primarily known as a defensive midfielder who protects the back four, Pardo vacated his position to score Chicago's equalizer on Wednesday and complete a dream debut for his new club.
The Fire adopted a five-man midfield at home against the Union and challenged the visitors to break them down. The Fire looked very dangerous on a number of counter-attacks, as they have a number of speedy forwards breaking towards goal. Chicago played with Dominic Oduro as the lone striker and he was dangerous all night on Wednesday. He will challenge the 'Caps defence, as he is always looking to make runs in behind opposing backlines.
It is hard to know sometimes what formation the Fire are playing, as they have a number of moving parts going forward. One key player for them is Marco Pappa, who likes to roam around the field looking for the ball, but often pops up on the left wing and likes cutting into the middle to get shots off his trusty left foot.
An area of concern for Chicago is their lack of goals. Only New England Revolution have scored fewer goals than the Fire. So this could be more of a tactical game for the 'Caps, as they try and break down Klopas' side, while also making sure not to get exposed at the back.
The 'Caps might have to be more patient than normal, knowing one goal could decide this game. If our home form is true, we will have a chance to take the lead, which would put us in a position for three points. We just have to make sure we score when the opportunity comes along.