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What we’re watching for as FC Dallas takes on the Chicago Fire

After a break in play due to the FIFA window, FC Dallas hits the road for the second time this season.

MLS: Portland Timbers at FC Dallas Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

After a break from play and back-to-back wins, FC Dallas returns to the field this Saturday afternoon as they take on some old rivals from the Windy City in the Chicago Fire FC.

Both teams are off to a good start to the regular season here as each team is looking to get back into the playoffs. Since the FIFA break slowed down some momentum for both sides, they’ll both want to get off on the right foot as the league resumes play.

Here are some things I will be looking forward to seeing this weekend.

Rotations upfront

MLS: Nashville SC at FC Dallas Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Given the timing and the travel involved, I don’t expect Jesus Ferreira or Paul Arriola to start this game on Saturday afternoon in Chicago. Arriola left the win over Panama on Sunday in Orlando with an injury that kept him out of the game in Costa Rica, while Ferreira split minutes in both matches this week for the United States.

I think if anything, we see Ferreira off the bench late in the game as he gets back into gear with his teammates.

So what will this mean against the Fire? I think we’re likely to see our first look at Franco Jara starting with a winger duo of Jader Obiran and Alan Velasco. If you ask me, that is a lot of speed on the wings with a rather slow striker in the middle. What will be key there is Jara’s hold-up play in the attack to help spring his wingers free along the sidelines and their crosses back into the penalty box for Jara to get on the end of too.

I think this combination could work well but Chicago has started off the season pretty strong in the back giving up just a single goal in four games.

A positive road output

If anything, this game on Saturday could come down to a midfield battle. I do like my chances with the way Brandon Servania and Edwin Cerrillo have been playing so far this season. But it could also be a defensive battle too. Both teams are near the top of the league in terms of goals against right now and each are wanting to make a case for why this year is going to be better and different for their fan bases.

While I would love to see an all-out for three points on the road at this stage in the season, I can also be convinced that a draw isn’t the worst thing either. Dallas has been so poor away from Frisco for a couple of years now. Since the start of the 2019 season, FC Dallas has had a dismal 6-27-11 road record. I know that all came under Luchi Gonzalez but the mentality has to change here for Nico Estevez, who has continued that record in 2022 with that Week 2 loss at New England.

So, again, a positive result is a good thing for this group in my book. Find a way to build off the momentum of the back-to-back wins before the FIFA break and start off a new month on a good note.

An old rivalry renewed?

FC Dallas vs Chicago Fire: Match Photos

Since we don’t see the Chicago Fire but more than once a year now (thanks to COVID it has been a couple of years since our last meeting), I tend to still ask this question to you all about the rivalry. Does it still matter? In a way, it feels like MLS 1.0 to me, maybe a tiny bit of MLS 2.0 but in 2022, I wonder if the rivalry is no more than a friendly wager between fans now than a gritty battle on the field between two teams that don’t like one another.

Honestly, that is fine if that is the direction we’re going at with this too. The Fire are off doing their thing and we’re down here doing our thing.

I don’t think we necessarily need this to be a rivalry anymore either. We have Houston. We have Austin. In some cases, you could say we have Kansas City, Colorado and Salt Lake. I know some folks care a lot about the games with LA (both teams), and then there are some who really gear up for those games against Portland and Seattle.

All of that is because we’re in opposite conferences. The fuel and hatred just died off in this series and that is okay. Fans can still exchange the Brimstone Cup trophy each time these two meet and that is fine. I think at this point we don’t need it to be anything more than that.