The Chicago Fire have been in last place in the East for a healthy amount of time. Stretching back to last year, it has been the resting place of the unfortunate Windy City dwellers.
This year started off rather interestingly for the Chicago Fire. At home for the opener, New York City FC put a solid four spot on what has proven to be a solid defense. However, the Fire also answered back admirably, putting three up of their own – each one an answer-back.
Since that time, the order of business has been clear. Defense first. Chicago has yet to score more than one goal in any given game. Meanwhile they’ve given up just four goals in their last six matches.
So you may be wondering – in a conference such as the East – how the Fire are still sweeping up the basement.
Well, there are two factors holding back the Fire, both of which are easy to overcome – mainly because they do not need to be overcome. Time will do the work for them.
The first problem is David Accam. Accam is second on the team in goals but he has been out since March 12th. Since that time, the Fire have only scored three goals. You can defend as well as you want, but if you don’t put the ball in the net, it’s all just a point. The Fire have notched two nil-nil draws and two 1-1 draws, all of which saw an excellent defensive display.
Kennedy Igboananike has been doing an excellent job by himself. But he cannot do it by himself. The Fire established themselves as a counter-strike team and with a combo like Accam and Igboananike, that identity was an exciting one – the speed and finishing ability of the two was enough to trouble opposing defenses. But they didn’t have long to stretch that muscle at all, as Accam got hurt.
But now he’s back. And next up is the Vancouver Whitecaps who have shown a penchant for disappointments.
The other problem that the Fire face is a lack of matches. They are the only MLS club to have only played seven matches. The rest of the teams in the East have played eight to ten matches. Assuming the Fire win their next two matches, they could vault themselves into the top four. Just like that.
Veljko Paunovic has introduced some quality changes to the Fire scheme and they are not going to be buried at the bottom all year again. They are going to threaten the middle of the Conference table and have glimpses where they push towards the top. It all depends on Accam and Igboananike’s ability to give the Fire something on the offensive end.