Toronto FC vs Chicago Fire | 2018 MLS Preview and Prediction

Major League Soccer: Toronto FC vs Chicago Fire

BMO Field – Saturday, April 28 2018 – 15:00 ET (20:00 BST)

UK TV Coverage: Live on Sky Sports Football (via Red Button)

Toronto FC vs Chicago Fire: Preview

Toronto FC return to MLS action against Chicago Fire on Saturday afternoon after their heartbreaking penalty defeat to Chivas in the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League Final on Wednesday. Gregg Vanney’s men fought incredible well but ultimately came up short. The competition has taken a lot out of the team, so Chicago will fancy their chances of picking up points.

Mexican sides continue to dominate the CCL, with Chivas lifting the trophy at Toronto’s expense this time around. The reigning MLS Cup champions can hold their heads high for their performances in the competition, but ultimately they returned empty handed.

The challenge will now be to ignite their MLS campaign, after losing four of their opening five games. Those losses have come as a result of focusing on the CCL games, but Toronto sit rock bottom in the Eastern Conference as a result. All four losses have also come directly after CCL fixtures, so fatigue will be a major concern for the home side here.

Chicago Fire arrive in high spirits after picking up a surprise 2-1 win at New York Red Bulls last weekend. Chicago goalkeeper Richard Sanchez came up big, making nine saves to help his side to three big road points. The Fire have picked up seven points from six games but know they are capable of better.

The worry for the visiting side is they’ve lost six consecutive MLS games against Toronto, stretching back three years. Saturday’s game does, however, represent an excellent chance to capitalise on a beaten Toronto side, who are expected to have key players missing.

This will be the 27th MLS meeting between the Eastern Conference sides. They have each won nine of the previous 26 games, with eight matches ending level. Toronto won both games 3-1 last season.

Toronto FC vs Chicago Fire: Team News

Toronto FC

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: Victor Vazquez (back spasms), Chris Mavinga (abdominal discomfort), Gregory van der Wiel (Achilles), Jozy Altidore (foot), Justin Morrow (calf strain), Drew Moor (undisclosed).

🚑 Out: Nick Hagglund (hamstring).

Chicago Fire

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: None.

🚑 Out: Jorge Corrales (infection), Michael de Leeuw (left ACL), Djorjde Mihailovic (right ACL), Matt Polster (right MCL), Luis Solignac (left quad).

Toronto FC vs Chicago Fire: Key Stats

Toronto FC’s MLS form: L/L/W/L/L

Chicago Fire’s MLS form: L/D/W/L/W

Key stat: Toronto FC have lost all four of their MLS games directly after playing in the CONCACAF Champions League this season, getting outscored 10-1 in those games.

Toronto FC vs Chicago Fire: Prediction

Toronto FC 2-2 Chicago Fire: There are usually goals when these two sides meet. Both sides have scored in nine of their last 10 MLS meetings and that should be the case again here. Toronto need to rally after their midweek CCL loss but they will be drained mentally and physically. Chicago will be looking to replicate their game plan that worked so well at Red Bull Arena last weekend. They will sit deep and look to hit the hosts on the counter. Score draw.

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Chicago Fire vs Portland Timbers | 2018 MLS Preview and Prediction

Major League Soccer: Chicago Fire vs Portland Timbers

Toyota Park – Saturday, March 31st 2018 – 18:00 ET (23:00 BST)

UK TV Coverage: Live on Sky Sports Football

Chicago Fire vs Portland Timbers: Preview

Chicago Fire take on the Portland Timbers on Saturday evening, with both sides still looking for their first win of the 2018 season. Chicago have opened the season with back-to-back losses, while Portland have taken just one point from a possible nine.

The Fire have only played two games but the early signs are worrying. They fell 2-1 at Minnesota United last weekend but lost a crazy game at home to Sporting KC 4-3 in Week 2 to open their campaign. That result was the more concerning, given the fact they looked so poor defensively and that they came from 2-0 down to lead 3-2 with seven minutes left before caving in.

Head coach Veljko Paunovic does have a number of injuries to deal with, which isn’t helping the Fire’s cause. But the concern is that they are in danger of falling a long way behind in a competitive Eastern Conference before they can get their season going.

Portland entered last week’s game at FC Dallas in the same position Chicago are in now, with two losses from two outings. However, they bounced back from a 4-0 drubbing at the Red Bulls by coming from behind to earn a valuable point at Dallas. Sebastian Blanco’s fine strike ensured Giovanni Savarese picked up his first point as an MLS head coach and he’ll now be looking to build on that.

The Timbers are preparing for the fourth of five-straight away games to open the 2018 season. They would love to get a win here, taking their points tally to four from four games. However, they haven’t won any of their last six away games in MLS.

This will be the ninth clash between the two sides and Chicago are still looking for their first win over Portland. The Timbers have won four of the previous eight games, with four ending all square. Their last two meetings have ended level, including last season’s entertaining 2-2 draw at Providence Park.

Chicago Fire vs Portland Timbers: Team News

Chicago Fire

❌ Suspensions: None.

❓ Doubts: Grant Lillard (knee)

🚑 Out: Matt Polster (knee), Djordje Mihailovic (knee), Michael de Leeuw (knee), Jonathan Campbell (facial fracture), Jorge Corrales (infection).

Portland Timbers

❌ Suspensions: Lawrence Olum (red card)

❓ Doubts: Jeff Attinella (right thigh)

🚑 Out: Vytas (right thigh), Roy Miller (left Achilles).

Chicago Fire vs Portland Timbers: Key Stats

Chicago Fire’s MLS form: L/L

Portland Timbers’ MLS form: L/L/D

Key stat: Chicago Fire have scored in a club-record 33 consecutive MLS home matches. In that time, they’ve posted an 18-5-10 record.

Chicago Fire vs Portland Timbers: Prediction

Chicago Fire 2-2 Portland Timbers: The past two games between these two have ended all level and that looks likely to be the outcome on Saturday evening too. The Fire will be desperate to get at least a point on the board but know they have defensive problems to address. Portland, meanwhile, will be looking to build on last week’s result at Dallas. Both sides have issues to address but that should lead to an open and entertaining clash.

Can Chicago Fire lure Bundesliga winger Jakub Błaszczykowski to MLS?

For many of the teams who haven’t participated in the latter stages of the MLS Cup Playoffs, the winter transfer speculation is already in full swing, as fans begin to wonder which trades will be made ahead of the 2018 campaign. Following Chicago Fire’s 4-0 Knockout Round defeat against New York Red Bulls at the end of October, they have already begun making enquiries about potential signings.

Chicago Fire concluded the regular season with a respectable third position in the Eastern Conference table, but despite also being the third-highest scoring team in MLS, their goal difference numbers took a hammering due to a leaky defence. Strengthening at the back will be a priority if the team is to push further for honours next year, but management are also looking at bringing in key attacking players.

One such attacking option is winger Jakub Błaszczykowski, with rumours initially surfacing in July and seemingly gathering pace. In November, there was further speculation in his home country, with the Polish international reportedly pondering his future options. Although one move apparently being considered is a return to his former club, Wisła Kraków, there appears to be a growing belief he is seriously considering Chicago Fire as his next destination; partly due to having family already living in the Windy City.

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However, such a move by Chicago Fire won’t be without inevitable difficulties. Błaszczykowski still has two years on his contract with current club, Wolfsburg, who have struggled to build any momentum in the Bundesliga so far this season. With more draws than either wins or defeats this term and sitting uncomfortably in mid-table, Bundesliga betting odds at 66/1 for a top-six finish have lengthened considerably, compared to the start of the campaign.

Wolfsburg could demand a transfer fee to release the 31-year-old from his contract, but after signing German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger in March of 2017 from Manchester United, and with an option to extend his stay for another year, Chicago Fire have already shown they’re not afraid of splashing out on important signings. Błaszczykowski would undoubtedly be another important capture, if they can push it across the finishing line.

Something that could aid Chicago Fire in their pursuit of the Polish player, is his lack of action during the current Bundesliga campaign. Błaszczykowski has slipped down the Wolfsburg pecking order this season and also struggled with some injuries, making just five starts and two substitute appearances in the Bundesliga, plus two further appearances in the DFB Pokal. This is possibly a key factor contributing to the player pondering his future elsewhere.

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Undoubtedly the biggest hurdle facing the MLS club might be a desire to get a quick decision from the player. Ideally, they would want to have a move for Błaszczykowski done and dusted in the European winter transfer window, making him available for their 2018 preseason plans. Still a regular international with the Polish national team, their participation in the 2018 World Cup in Russia next summer could prove to be the deciding factor, at least in the mind of the player himself. He might feel his possibilities of featuring at the World Cup could be hampered, were he to accept an immediate offer from Chicago Fire, rather than stay in Europe and fight for his place at Wolfsburg for the remainder of the 2017/18 season. Much convincing and cajoling will be required on the part of the MLS club, if they’re to get their man any time soon. Otherwise, the speculation surrounding the future of Błaszczykowski looks set to continue for at least another couple of months.

MLS Playoffs Preview and Prediction: Chicago Fire vs New York Red Bulls

2017 MLS Cup Playoffs – Knockout Round: Chicago Fire vs New York Red Bulls

Toyota Park – Wednesday, October 25 – 20:30 ET (01:30 BST)

Match Odds: Chicago Fire 21/10 – Draw 5/2 – NY Red Bulls 23/10

Chicago Fire vs New York Red Bulls: Preview

The 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs are here. It all kicks off with the Chicago Fire hosting the New York Red Bulls in the first of four midweek Knockout Round games.

Both teams have reason for optimism heading into Wednesday’s game but only one side will remain in the playoffs come the end of play. This is expected to be the tightest of the four Knockout Round games, as the below projections highlight.

Chicago Fire deserve enormous praise for even reaching the postseason, let alone earning home-field advantage. They haven’t played a postseason game since 2012 and so you can expect a special atmosphere at Toyota Park.

Most the focus in the build-up to the game will be on Dax McCarty. The midfielder joined the Fire from the Red Bulls before the start of the campaign and will now be looking to get past his former side for a place in the Conference Semifinals.

Embed from Getty ImagesThey have the 2017 Golden Boot winner in Nemanja Nikolic. The Serbian striker netted 24 goals and played every single regular season game in his debut season. A strong showing in the playoffs would give the Fire a great chance at success.

The worry for the home side is that their form has been anything but solid heading into the playoffs. They’ve posted a 3-2-1 record over their last six and lost 3-0 at Houston on the final day of the regular season. But their strong home form still makes them narrow favourites here.

The New York Red Bulls had been stuck in sixth place for what seemed like an eternity. They didn’t lock down a playoff spot as soon as they’d have hoped. But challenges from rivals faded and they’ve been able to prepare for the postseason for a couple of weeks.

Embed from Getty ImagesJesse Marsch’s men ended the regular season with a 2-1 win at DC United. They have only lost one of their last five and will arrive at Chicago looking to keep it tight and hit them on the break.

These two sides met twice during the regular season. The Red Bulls won 2-1 at Red Bull Arena early on in the season, before they drew 1-1 at Toyota Park in early September.

Chicago Fire vs New York Red Bulls: Team News

The big question mark heading into Wednesday’s game is the fitness of Bastian Schweinsteiger. He hasn’t started a game in almost two months but is officially listed as ‘questionable’. The Fire will definitely be without Jorge Bava, John Goossens, Daniel Johnson, Christian Dean and Michael De Leeuw.

The Red Bulls have four players ruled out for Wednesday’s game. Gideon Baah, Mike Grella, Connor Lade and Aurelien Collin are all sidelined through injury.

Chicago Fire vs New York Red Bulls: Key Points

Chicago Fire’s last five: L/W/D/W/L

New York Red Bulls’ last five: D/L/W/D/W

Key Stat: Chicago only lost two of their 17 home games during the regular season. They outscored their opponents 44-14 in that time.

Key Player: Dax McCarty – The combative midfielder will be the centre of attention on Wednesday night. His job will be to disrupt his former teammate Sacha Kljestan from controlling the game. If he succeeds, it’s more than likely that Chicago will advance.

Embed from Getty ImagesChicago Fire vs New York Red Bulls: Prediction

Chicago Fire 1-2* (AET) New York Red Bulls – This should be the closest of all four Knockout Round games. The Fire are a force at home and will be relishing the prospect of a playoff game for the first time in five years. But the Red Bulls are experienced at this level and know how to get the job done. This looks poised to go beyond 90 minutes but we see the Red Bulls as the more likely to advance, with this one looking like it could go all the to penalties.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Montreal Impact vs Chicago Fire

Major League Soccer: Montreal Impact vs Chicago Fire

Stade Saputo – Wednesday August 16 – 19:30 ET (00:30 BST)

Match Odds: Montreal 6/5 – Draw 12/5 – Chicago 2/1

Montreal Impact vs Chicago Fire: Preview

Montreal Impact take on Chicago Fire on Wednesday night as Week 24 kicks off with a midweek matchup. The Impact come into the game high in confidence, after winning 3-0 at Philadelphia on Saturday.

That result moved the Impact up to seventh in the East and five points behind Atlanta in the final playoff spot. Montreal have won three of their last five MLS games and have picked up form at the perfect time.

Mauro Biello’s side weren’t expected to make the top six after an underwhelming season. But their recent performances will have lifted the mood around the club. Ignacio Piatti and Blerim Dzemaili have been standout performers and could yet lead the Canadian side into their third-straight playoffs.

Chicago Fire were having an incredible season. But a recent dip in form has seen their hopes of winning a first Supporters’ Shield since 2003 fade. Saturday’s 3-1 loss at the Columbus Crew was their third in their last four games.

The Fire still have 11 games to play but they are six points behind Toronto FC coming into Wednesday’s match.

A win in Montreal would put them straight back into contention and would see them move back into second, ahead of NYCFC. But a loss would put their credentials into serious jeopardy. The likes of the Red Bulls, Columbus and Atlanta are all close behind, so Chicago can’t afford many slip-ups.

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Veljko Paunovic’s men haven’t kept a clean sheet in five outings. But Chicago know that they still have the tools to hurt any team. They won 3-0 at Montreal last season and a repeat result would settle any nerves starting to creep in.

The reverse fixture this season ended 2-2 a Toyota Park back in April. Both sides had a man sent off on that day, and both scored in stoppage time in a dramatic clash. Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla looked to have won it for the Impact in the 90th minute. But Luis Solignac ensured the points would be shared as he equalised in the 93rd minute.

Montreal Impact vs Chicago Fire: Team News

Ambroise Oyongo is still Montreal’s only injury absentee. Mauro Biello would probably like to name an unchanged side but he does have Saturday’s game against Real Salt Lake to consider as well.

Chicago Fire boss still has four players sidelined through injury. John Goossens, Jorge Bava, Brandon Vincent and Daniel Johnson are all out. Michael Harrington is a doubt as he’s been struggling with illness. Juninho has recovered from a knee injury and should be in line to start.

Montreal Impact vs Chicago Fire: Key Points

Montreal Impact’s last five: W/L/L/W/W

Chicago Fire’s last five: D/L/L/W/L

Key Stat: Montreal Impact have won five of their last six home matches in MLS. They’ve outscored their opponents 12-5 in that time.

Key Player: Ignacio Piatti – The fact is, Montreal are a better side when Piatti is in the team. The Argentine playmaker leads the team with ten goals, despite starting just 15 games this season. He has two goals and an assist in his last two outings and will look to keep his strong form going here.

Montreal Impact vs Chicago Fire: Prediction

Montreal Impact 2-1 Chicago Fire – This isn’t an easy game to call. Yes the Fire are out of form. Yes, they’ve been leaking goals. But they are still one of the East’s most well-rounded sides. However, Montreal are on a roll. They are looking for a third consecutive win and confidence seems to be growing with each game. If Piatti and Dzemaili are on song, they could once again prove the difference.

Vote: Who do you want to see in the 2017 MLS All-Star starting XI against Real Madrid?

The 2017 MLS All-Star game is rapidly approaching. The best of MLS will take on La Liga and Champions League winners Real Madrid at Soldier Field in Chicago on Wednesday night (8:30 ET/01:30 BST). But who do you want to see in the 2017 MLS All-Star starting XI?

Real Madrid are the first Spanish team to play in the MLS All-Star game. Their squad is graced with world class talent. The likes of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Luka Modric and Isco all set to play on Wednesday night.

The All-Stars have long-time European stars such as Bastian Schweinsteiger. US national team stars such as Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore. And emerging MLS talents in Kellyn Acosta and Miguel Almiron.

But who do you want to see in the 2017 MLS All-Star starting XI? Vote below now, or use this link.

MLS Preview and Prediction: New York City FC vs Chicago Fire

Major League Soccer: New York City FC vs Chicago Fire

Venue: Yankee Stadium – Saturday, July 22 – 14:00 ET (19:00 BST)

Match Odds: New York City FC 4/5 – Draw 5/2 – Chicago Fire 16/5

New York City FC vs Chicago Fire: Preview

New York City FC host Chicago Fire in the prime time match at 7pm BST on Saturday evening. It’s a big clash between two strong teams. It’s second against third in both the Eastern Conference and the Supporters’ Shield standings. So this is an important one for both sides.

Both NYCFC and Chicago come into the weekend’s clash with a good run of form behind them. Both have recorded four wins from their last six. However, without a win in their last two, New York City will want to return to winning ways with a big scalp in front of their own fans.

NYCFC should take confidence into the game, knowing they have scored in every league game since their opening day loss to Orlando City.

Patrick Vieira’s men put two past league leaders Toronto on Wednesday night in that 2-2 draw. They will be pleased to have not lost such a big game, but the truth is the home fans know they were in a solid position to win that game. The hosts can’t afford to drop more points on Saturday.

Chicago Fire are without doubt the big storyline of the 2017 season. They finished bottom of the entire league last season and now they are just a couple of places below the summit. Their transfer business was excellent during the offseason, but Veljko Paunovic deserves great credit for the way he has drilled the team.

Chicago are unbeaten in their last eleven, winning eight and drawing three. The Fire are in blazing form and do not look to be fading anytime soon. Having only failed to score on two occasions thus far this season, goals could be in abundance in Saturday’s battle.

This will be the first game between the two sides this season. Their last meeting came in September 2016, with NYCFC running out 4-1 winners at Yankee Stadium. Chicago are still looking for their first away win at New York City.

New York City FC vs Chicago Fire: Team News

New York City: Khiry Shelton (hamstring) and Ronald Matarrita (foot) are both still out with long-term injuries. Miguel Camargo is no longer at the Gold Cup with Panama but might not be ready to feature here.

Chicago Fire: John Goossens (ankle), Jorge Bava (elbow) and David Arshakyan (ankle) are all out. Bastian Schweinsteiger is listed as questionable with a hip injury. Matt Polster is a doubt with a leg injury but could feature. Dax McCarty is away on international duty.

New York City FC vs Chicago Fire: Key Points

New York City’s last five: W/W/W/L/D

Chicago Fire’s last five: W/W/W/W/D

Key Stat: Chicago’s only league victory over New York City FC came in their first meeting in April 2015. A 1-0 win at Toyota Park. They haven’t won any of the four clashes since, conceding ten times.

Key Player: David Villa – It’s becoming very common for the Spaniard to be named as key player. But when you have been involved in 17 goals (13 goals, 4 assists) in 19 league appearances, it’s hard not to be. Villa scored again on Wednesday night and will look to carry NYCFC to victory against the Fire on Saturday.

New York City FC vs Chicago Fire: Prediction

New York City FC 2-2 Chicago Fire – Both teams are bang in form and despite a slight blip for NYCFC, they are still unbeaten at home. Chicago will provide stiff competition but we expect an entertaining score draw.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Chicago Fire vs Atlanta United

Competition: Major League Soccer – Chicago Fire vs. Atlanta United
Venue: Toyota Park – Saturday, June 10 – 16:00 ET (21:00 BST)
Match Odds: Chicago 7/10 – Draw 14/5 – Atlanta 100/30

Match Preview

Chicago Fire host Atlanta United in one of just three MLS games on Saturday due to the international fixtures across the globe.

Chicago are looking to stretch their remarkable unbeaten run to seven as they continue to prove they have come on leaps and bounds from last season. The Fire drew 0-0 at Orlando last weekend but had won four on the spin prior to that and will fancy their chances of getting all three points here.

The Fire have been excellent at Toyota Park this season, winning six of their seven home games. They are unbeaten in ten home games stretching back to last season and are rightly favourites as a result.

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Atlanta will be hoping they can put an end to their tough run of form on the road in Chicago this weekend. Their 3-1 loss at Vancouver last week means the expansion franchise have only won one of their last seven road trips.

Gerardo Martino’s side haven’t been good enough defensively and must start keeping clean sheets if they are to earn a playoff spot come the end of their debut season.

They attack with promise and have scored in nine straight games, however the problem is they’ve also conceded in nine consecutive matches.

This will be the second meeting between the two sides this season after Atlanta blew Chicago away in the reverse fixture, winning 4-0 at Bobby Dodd Stadium back in Week 3.

Team News

Chicago Fire will be without Dax McCarty as he is away on international duty with the US Men’s National Team, while they are also still without the injured John Goossens.

Atlanta boss Gerardo Martino remains without Jacob Peterson, while Josef Martinez is thought to be nearing a return and is listed as ‘questionable’. Miguel Almiron is away on international duty with Paraguay but is expected to return in time to be a part of the squad on Saturday, although Kenwyne Jones will remain away with Trinidad and Tobago.

Key Points

Chicago Fire’s form: W/W/W/W/D

Atlanta United’s form: L/D/W/W/L

Key Stat: Chicago Fire have won their last five home games in a row, outscoring their opponents 13-2 in that strong run.

Key Player: Nemanja Nikolic – The Chicago Fire striker has been excellent since joining and has fired in 11 goals in 14 games so far this season. He has scored nine in seven games at home and should add to that tally against a leaky Atlanta defence here.

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Score Prediction

Chicago Fire 2-1 Atlanta United – The Fire should be able to get revenge for their early-season drubbing at the hands of Atlanta here. Chicago have been a real force at home and look poised to get three more points, which would leave them just one point behind Toronto at the top of the East.

MLS Preview and Prediction: LA Galaxy vs Chicago Fire

Competition: Major League Soccer – LA Galaxy vs. Chicago Fire
Venue: StubHub Center – Saturday, May 6th – 22:30 (03:30 BST)
Match Odds: LA Galaxy 3/4 – Draw 13/5 – Chicago 16/5

Match Preview

LA Galaxy take on Chicago Fire on Saturday as they look to try and build some form after a poor start to the season.

Curt Onalfo has struggled to bring success through this period of transition so far, with last weekend’s frustrating 0-0 draw against Philadelphia another reminder that the Galaxy have a lot of work to do.

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They come into the weekend in tenth place in the West, just three points outside the playoffs, but are in real danger of falling behind if they fail to pick up their form soon.

The Galaxy are historically a really strong side at home, but they’ve only won one of their five games at StubHub this season, scoring just three goals in that time and losing three.

Chicago will arrive in California with more confidence than usual as they look to end a seven-year winless run against the Galaxy.

The Fire fell 2-1 at the Red Bulls last week, suffering a second-consecutive away defeat after having won back-to-back home games beforehand.

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They have yet to win away this season as their road woes have continued despite an upturn in quality following the arrival of Dax McCarty, Bastian Schweinsteiger and former Galaxy man Juninho.

Chicago have now only won one of their last 46 away games in MLS, stretching back to 2014. But given the Galaxy’s struggles, they will feel they can leave with three valuable points on Saturday night.

Team News

Robbie Rogers and Sebastian Lletget remain long-term absentees for the Galaxy, who are also without goalkeeper Clement Diop, who is sidelined with a hip injury.

John Goossens remains out for the Fire, who are also set to be without the injured Matt Polster and Patrick Doody.

Key Points

LA Galaxy’s form: L/W/L/L/D

Chicago Fire’s form: D/W/W/L/L

Key Stat: LA Galaxy are unbeaten in eight MLS games against Chicago, last losing to them seven years ago.

Key Player: Romain Alessandrini – Despite a terrible season so far, LA Galaxy have at least had Alessandrini’s performances to enjoy. The French DP has impressed since joining over the offseason, scoring four times in eight games, while picking up two assists along the way. If LA are to get out of this rut, you feel the attacker will need to play a leading role.

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Score Prediction

LA Galaxy 2-2 Chicago Fire – It feels way too early to call this a must-win game for LA. But the fact is they must start improving quickly to give fans a reason for optimism over the remainder of the season. Chicago are the league’s worst side on the road, but will arrive with hope of further damaging the Galaxy’s poor run of form. Either side could win this, in what should be an open contest, but we see the sides settling for a point apiece.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Chicago Fire vs Columbus Crew

Competition: Major League Soccer – Chicago Fire vs. Columbus Crew
Venue: Toyota Park – Saturday April 8 – 14:00 ET (19:00 BST)
Match Odds: Chicago Fire 11/10 – Draw 12/5 – Columbus Crew 9/4

Match Preview

Chicago Fire host Columbus Crew SC on Saturday night as the two Eastern Conference rivals meet for the second time already this year following the clash at MAPFRE Stadium on opening weekend, which finished 1-1.

Chicago have yet to pick up the sort of form which some expected of them after they strengthened in the offseason. The additions of Dax McCarty and Juninho in midfield have been followed by the star signing of Bastian Schweinsteiger, all of whom should strengthen a Fire side that have been fragile too often over the past few seasons.

Having conceded seven goals so far in their four games, Chicago still have work to do defensively. However, much of this may come down to ill-discipline as the Fire have had a sending off in their last two matches. Sorting that out will instantly help their cause.

On the other hand, Columbus have won their last three on the bounce and have been impressive in doing so as they’ve scored seven times in those matches and have moved to the top of the East.

There upturn in form is particularly impressive given the fact they started the season with a disappointing home draw to Chicago before losing at Houston in Week 2.

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Justin Meram has been the Crew’s shining light in recent weeks, scoring three times in the past two games. The addition of Kekuta Manneh might have put his position in doubt, but he’s responded by turning up his form and Columbus need more of the same from him if they are to remain at the top of the conference.

Both sides look strong for different reasons and it should make for a good encounter. Chicago possess a great recent record at home, having only lost once in their last 15 at Toyota Park. Whereas, Columbus have won their last three, leaving us with what should be an open fixture.

Team News

Chicago Fire are without three midfielders for the visit of the Crew as Matt Polster (right knee strain), John Goossens (right ankle) and Drew Conner all miss out through injury. Juninho is suspended after picking up a red card in last week’s draw with Montreal.

Columbus Crew will definitely be without Gaston Sauro, as he is out for the season with a knee injury. Dilly Duka and Jonathan Mensah are both listed as questionable.

Key Points

Chicago Fire’s form: D/W/L/D

Columbus Crew’s form: D/L/W/W/W

Key Stat: Chicago have only lost once in their last fifteen home matches in MLS.

Key Player: David Accam – Ghanaian international, Accam can cause any MLS team problems with his pace. He already has a goal and an assist to his name this season and we expect those numbers to rise on Saturday night, particularly with Schweinsteiger’s vision now an extra weapon from midfield.

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Score Prediction

Chicago Fire 2-2 Columbus Crew – With Columbus on a three-game winning streak and Chicago boasting solid home form, we expect the two to cancel each other out in a score draw, although goals are to be expected as both sides will look to attack.