Orlando City will try to bounce back in a midweek road contest after once again falling to the New York Red Bulls. The Lions will try to get back on track against a Chicago Fire team that has had a rough start to the season but is possibly showing signs of getting things going in the right direction.
It has been a bit of a rough start for the Fire, but the team has come on strong in the last two games with a 3-3 draw against Philadelphia and a 3-0 pasting of Atlanta United. Have you seen anything different out of Chicago that contributed to those two results?
Patrick McCraney: Raphael Wicky switched to a 3-5-2 formation before the Philly match, and stuck with it for the Atlanta match. The Fire had scored four goals all season before that, and have scored six in the last two games since the formation change.
Djordje Mihailovic left the club in December after spending several years in Chicago. How has he been replaced?
PM: Stanislav Ivanov was supposed to be the guy to replace him, but he got hurt in preseason and has yet to play, so we really have no idea what to expect there. But, it’s not like the Fire are trying to replace a world beater here. Djordje’s career high so far is three goals in a season, and he severely underperformed his xG last season. The Fire have missed his assists, though, especially Robert Beric. Djordje played the final ball on several of Beric’s goals last year. This season, Beric has just one goal, which came in the opening 15 minutes of the first game. Beric is probably missing Djordje more than anyone.
How does this Fire team like to play under Raphael Wicky? What is it best at?
PM: Under Wicky, the Fire press well, and always work hard. Even during the bad stretch this season, the team generally put in a solid effort. In Wicky’s two seasons here, the team has been really good at creating scoring chances, but has struggled to actually finish them. They’ve really lacked any kind of teeth in the final third, especially this season, except for Ignacio Aliseda’s two-goal, one-assist performance against Atlanta last time out. Was that a one-time deal, or will Aliseda be able to provide that scoring punch going forward? We’ll see.
Are there any injuries, suspensions, or call-ups that will keep players unavailable for selection? What is your projected starting lineup and score prediction?
PM: Francisco Calvo is away with Costa Rica getting ready for the Gold Cup, so he is gone. Like I said earlier, Ivanov is out with a knee injury, but other than that the team is pretty well intact.
I think they’ll line up like this (3-5-2): Bobby Shuttleworth; Jonathan Bornstein, Mauricio Pineda, Johan Kappelhof; Miguel Navarro, Boris Sekulic, Fabian Herbers, Alvaro Medran, Przemyslaw Frankowski; Robert Beric, Ignacio Aliseda.
As for a score? I’ll go with a 1-1 draw.
Big thank you to Patrick for the great info on the Fire. Vamos Orlando!