After enjoying both the success and the rest of the international break, FC Dallas travels to the land of Kanye West and upside down pizza to take on the Fire. Coming off of two impressive wins, FC Dallas will look to knock off a Fire team that has yet to lose this season and only conceded one goal in four games.
While the international break provided one of the largest USMNT celebratory notes of the last four years, it also provided uncertainty for this week’s matchup. Jesus Ferreira and Paul Arriola both joined the national team squad for the final qualifying matches, linking up for a goal that helped push the US into the World Cup. However, Arriola missed the final game with sickness and Ferreria is likely still feeling some fatigue from seeing action in both games. How they feel on Saturday morning likely has a large impact on the result in this one.
Are the Fire actually red hot or is this just a spark?
On paper, Chicago looks impressive. No losses in four matches and two consecutive wins would indicate that this won’t be an easy weekend at Soldier Field for the good guys. However, the numbers don’t tell the entire story. Their four opponents thus far have averaged a -2.25 goal differential and turned in a few less than impressive results. To start the season, the Fire drew against a Miami team that has lost every other game this season and given up 10 goals in that time. Since that point, the most impressive win arguably comes against a DC United team that only has wins over Cincinnati and newcomer Charlotte. While we don’t want to take away from the undefeated streak, it’s not necessarily against the most impressive string of opponents.
On the field, the team is certainly one to watch out for. After bringing in midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri from Lyon and center back Rafael Czichos from FC Koln, Chicago has a midfield that can hold possession and a backline that can cause 90 minutes of frustration. Expect the Fire to try to control the game early and wait to capitalize on mistakes by FC Dallas rather than consistently aggressing forward.
Don’t expect the Windy City to be a breeze for FC Dallas
Jesus Ferreira started the season off in a bit of a scoring rut but may have gotten out of it after scoring a hat trick in the last game against Portland. Another goal during international play, assisted by none other than Paul Arriola, would suggest that Paul and Jesus seem to be enjoying playing on the field together. That’s only beneficial if they’re actually on the field though. If neither are fit to start, then we should expect to see Jara start up top with Velasco and Obrian on either side of him.
Regardless of who starts, the game is winnable. Velasco might need a bit more time to adjust to MLS play but it seems immediately obvious that he has the ability to turn any game around with just one run. While both Obrian and Jara have had ups and downs with the team, both have provided quality performances and could absolutely do so again. The bigger concern will be how Jara, who lacks speed, will find his place between two of the fastest players on the roster. If all three can manage to stay in synch, a goal is likely to follow.
Can FC Dallas make it three in a row?
If Ferreria and Arriola are somehow both fit to start, I’d expect FC Dallas to extend their winning streak to 3. Chicago’s backline has been great, but they haven’t played a front three with the talent of Ferreira, Arriola, and Velasco. Unfortunately, both starting is unlikely and we’re probably more likely to see both come off the bench at best. In that case, Edwin Cerrillo and Brandon Servania will need to make sure Chicago doesn’t control the game in the middle so the front line can get as many chances to beat Chicago’s defense as possible. Everyone makes mistakes, and I think both teams make one on Saturday and then hold to leave with a point.
Prediction: Chicago Fire 1-1 FC Dallas
How to Watch:
Venue: Soldier Field, Chicago IL
Kickoff Time: Saturday, April 2nd. 2:30 PM CST
Available TV: TXA 21 Dallas, Univision
Available Streaming: FCDallas.com, FuboTV
Available Radio: 1270AM