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Last Stand: Chicago Fire - Charlotte FC preview

Patrick McCraney Avatar
September 17, 2022

Until this point, the Chicago Fire had clung to a tiny glimmer of hope that they could, if they just took care of their own business, make the playoffs. That’s all but over now. A loss Saturday night at Soldier Field vs. Charlotte FC would see the club miss the playoffs for the fifth straight year. A draw could also force elimination, if other results go against the Fire. It’s three points or bust, and even that’s delaying the inevitable.

Like the Fire, Charlotte is also six points off the final playoff spot, but with a game in hand. The club has had a decent first season in MLS, and was above the playoff line for much of the year, but has dropped off in recent weeks.

Chicago will be without centerback Carlos Terán, who is serving a suspension for yellow card accumulation. However, defensive midfielder Federico Navarro is back for this match, after serving his yellow card suspension in the 3-2 loss to CF Montreal earlier this week.

On Tuesday, Fire coach Ezra Hendrickson opted to start left back Jonathan Bornstein in Fede Navarro’s absence, rather than giving an opportunity to a homegrown midfielder like Javier Casas or Sergio Oregel. That move left many fans puzzled, but Hendrickson explained his thinking after the match.

“You know, beyond the mistakes, I thought he did well, and Javi Casas, you have a guy that played limited minutes in the league so far, and Sergio who has never played,” Hendrickson said. “So it’s difficult to put them in that situation like this that we faced ourselves with, we thought going with experience would be beneficial to us.

“Hindsight is 20/20. I think if we had to do it all over again, we would still go with Bornstein because, like I said, the experience that we felt was needed.”

Elimination Scenarios

There are many. Take a look:

Herbers undergoes successful surgery

Fabian Herbers is recovering after undergoing surgery on his groin this week. He flew to Philadelphia for the procedure, and the recovery will see the German miss the rest of the 2022 season. On his podcast, Zee Soccer Pod, Herbers said he had been dealing with pain for much of the season, and after back-to-back 90 minute performances recently he decided it was time to finally have the surgery.

Welcome back, BB!

Brandt Bronico returns to play against his old club in Chicago for the first time since his option was declined after the 2020 season. Bronico has been a mainstay in central midfield for his hometown expansion side, appearing in every match this season. He’s played 2,579 minutes for Charlotte, by far the most of any outfield player at the club, and second only to goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina.

READ: Patrick McCraney answers five big questions about the Fire heading into 2023

How to Watch

Chicago Fire vs. Charlotte FC

MLS Match Day #32 | Saturday, September 17 | Soldier Field, Chicago

Kickoff: 7 p.m. CT

TV: WGN-TV

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: Tyler Terens (play-by-play guy/very, very busy), Tony Meola (color commentator, U.S. Soccer Hall of Famer)

Follow Us! @CHGO_Fire

Injury Reports

Chicago

  • QUESTIONABLE: Stanislav Ivanov (right quad)
  • QUESTIONABLE: Chris Mueller (right hip)
  • QUESTIONABLE: Andre Reynolds II (right knee)
  • OUT: Gastón Giménez (right hamstring),
  • OUT: Fabian Herbers (right hip)
  • OUT: Wyatt Omsberg (left foot)
  • OUT: Kacper Przybyłko (back)
  • OUT: Carlos Terán (yellow card accumulation)
  • OUT: Jairo Torres (left lower leg)

Charlotte

  • OUT: Vinicius Mello (left foot surgery)
  • OUT: Adam Armour (left knee surgery)
  • OUT: Guzman Corujo (right knee surgery)
  • QUESTIONABLE: Jan Sobocinski (right thigh)
  • QUESTIONABLE: McKinzie Gaines (right lower leg)

Chicago’s Final Two Matches

Saturday, October 1 at FC Cincinnati | TQL Stadium, Cincinnati, OH | 6:30 p.m. CT, WGN

Saturday, October 9 vs. New England Revolution | SeatGeek Stadium, Bridgeview | 1:30 p.m. CT, WGN

Prediction

Chicago won a thriller in Charlotte last time these two teams faced off, and they’re favorites to win again, according to PointsBet (-110 for a Fire win, +260 for a draw, +275 for Charlotte win). This one feels like a Fire victory. We say it ends 2-1.

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