The Chicago Fire seek their first win of the season when the Columbus Crew visit Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill., on Saturday.
The Fire (0-2-1) have been hit hard by injuries that have altered the lineup but midfielder Dax McCarty said it’s not an excuse for the slow start, which included consecutive losses to open the season. Chicago was headed for a third straight defeat before Brandon Vincent got the equalizer six minutes from the end to tie Portland 2-2 on March 31.
“For whatever reason, we’re not clicking right now. That’s obvious for everyone to see,” McCarty said.
Fortunately for the Fire, one constant has been 2017 MLS goal leader (24) Nemanja Nikolic. He has three of Chicago’s six goals this season.
“He’s a quality striker. He finishes his chances,” Crew coach Gregg Berhalter said. “He has very good movement behind the line. It’s about being aware of him.”
Likewise, Chicago must keep track of Crew (3-1-1) striker Gyasi Zardes, who has four goals after scoring twice in 24 games for the Los Angeles Galaxy last season.
“Columbus Crew are doing really well,” Fire midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger said. “Last year I really liked how they played and even this season they have improved their roster. You can see the team knows exactly what they want to do on the field.
“We have to find a way to break their game’s style but also focus on our game.”
The Crew is still smarting from a 2-1 home loss to Vancouver last week but captain Wil Trapp expects the Fire to be just as eager for the full three points.
“It’s a big game for them but it’s also a big game for us because we don’t want to drop points two games in a row,” he said.
—Field Level Media