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If this seems a bit familiar, it’s because it is.
Two years ago, the Chicago Fire were set to play the Vancouver Whitecaps in the third group stage game of the MLS is Back Covid-bubble tournament in Orlando. The Fire had recently won a massive game over the Seattle Sounders, and with a win or a draw, they were set to move on to the knockout stage. After a weather delay in the second half, the Fire came out as flat footed as can be, the Whitecaps scored twice, and Chicago was out. Fans were angry, and all the hope and goodwill they’d built in that weird Covid season was gone.
The 2022 edition of the Fire visits Vancouver Saturday night (9 p.m. CT, WGN, CF97 Live) looking for a third straight victory, which would catapult them even closer to the seventh and final playoff spot. Right now they’re in 12th, still only two spots off the bottom, but just four points off of seventh. It’s tight, and every point matters.
“We are going into this game with a bit of momentum after our last two games, one being against a Cascadia team,” Fire head coach Ezra Hendrickson said this week. “So you know, we are just going to go there, and we know we have to pick up points on the road and we are going to go there and try to get the three points.
“As far as what has happened in the past with the club, we can’t really think about that. We don’t even think about what happened a couple Saturdays ago against Columbus. Right now we are just looking forward and what we can do, and hopefully ride the wave of this momentum through the end of the season.”
Chicago has won four of its last seven in league play, good enough for second-best in all of MLS, and tied for best in the Eastern Conference with the Philadelphia Union. Things are starting to look better (the second half against the Columbus Crew aside), but the 10-game, three-month long winless streak from March to June means the Fire can’t afford to drop any points, even on the road, if they want to truly make a playoff push. Vancouver has been struggling, winning just two of their last seven games. It’s winnable, but so were the recent road matches against Houston and San Jose, and the Fire lost both.
Who’s in and who’s out?
Jairo Torres is questionable for this one–not with the usual lingering hip issue, but because he’s going through Covid health and safety protocols. Gastón Giménez is out, meaning we’ll likely get another look at Mauricio Pineda in midfield. Right back Jhon Espinoza will also miss the match with a knee issue, and Wyatt Omsberg is still a long way off from his return.
Milestone coming for Jonny B.
With back to back 90-minute performances, Jonathan Bornstein is sitting on 198 MLS appearances, just two shy of 200 for his career. Bornstein started with Chivas USA 16 years ago, then spent nearly a decade away from the league, before returning to play for the Fire in 2019. Since joining Chicago, Bornstein’s made 75 appearances, including 57 starts.
Bonus “Zee Pod Derby”
With Vancouver’s recent trade for Julian Gressel, we’ll get a bonus version of “Zee Pod Derby” this season. Gressel hosts “Zee Soccer Podcast” with the Fire’ s Fabian Herbers. The two have already played each other twice this season, with Herbers coming out on top over Gressel’s D.C. United teams. Gressel was traded by D.C. shortly after Wayne Rooney arrived as the club’s new manager.
Two Fire games moving to SeatGeek Stadium
We’ve previously reported this was likely, but it’s official now: The Fire’s Sept. 10 game with Inter Miami and the Oct. 9 regular season finale against the New England Revolution are both moving to SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, because of conflicts with the Chicago Bears schedule.
Because of the Bears’ lease agreement with Soldier Field, the Fire are unable to play games at the venue within five days of a Bears’ home game. The Bears are scheduled to play regular season games at Soldier Field on Sunday, Sept. 11 and Thursday, Oct. 13.
The Fire are also moving the Aug. 28 game against Djordje Mihailovic’s CF Montreal one day earlier, to Saturday, Aug. 27 at 7 p.m. That Saturday night kickoff should mean higher ticket sales for the Fire.
Come Tailgate with Us!
Chicago is back home July 30, playing host to Atlanta United at 4 p.m., in the first match of a Soldier Field doubleheader–the Chicago Red Stars host the San Diego Wave in the second match.
At CHGO, we love a party. So we’re taking this doubleheader as a great excuse to have one. Come hang out with us on top of the Waldron Deck starting at 2 p.m. or so. Let’s have some fun, and hope that both teams can pull off a win that day.
How to Watch
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Chicago Fire
MLS Match Day #22 | Saturday, July 23 | BC Place, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Kickoff: 9 p.m. CT
Streaming: CF97 Live (available for free at ChicagoFire.com or the Chicago Fire mobile app for fans watching within 75 miles of Soldier Field)
Out of Market Streaming: ESPN+
Talent: Arlo White (play-by-play), Tony Meola (color commentator), Tyler Terens (broadcasting from the bar at AJ Hudson’s during the match. He will also serve as a guest bartender, which seems perfect.)
Follow Us! @CHGO_Fire
Next Up for Chicago
Saturday, July 30 | Chicago Fire vs. Atlanta United | Soldier Field, Chicago | 4 p.m. CT, WGN, CF97 Live – Doubleheader: Chicago Red Stars vs. San Diego Wave to follow
Saturday, August 6 | Charlotte FC vs. Chicago Fire | Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC | 6 p.m. CT, WGN, CF97 Live
Saturday, August 13 | Philadelphia Union vs. Chicago Fire | Subaru Park, Chester, PA | 6:30 p.m. CT, WGN, CF97 Live
Sunday, August 21 | Chicago Fire vs. New York City FC | Soldier Field, Chicago | 5:00 PM WGN, CF97 Live
Our friends at PointsBet have Vancouver as slight favorites, +130 vs. +200 for the Fire. To be fair, this one doesn’t feel like a Fire victory, at least based on those recent away losses in Houston and San Jose.
The Fire won’t win, but they won’t lose, either. We say this one ends in a 1-1 draw.
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