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

Competition: Major League Soccer – Chicago Fire vs New York Red Bulls

Venue: Toyota Park – Wednesday, August 26 – 20:30 ET (01:30 BST) 

Match Odds: Chicago Fire 15/8 – Draw 12/5 – New York Red Bulls 5/4

Match Preview

Chicago Fire host New York Red Bulls on Wednesday night to kickoff Week 26’s MLS action in a game between two sides at either end of the Eastern Conference.

Chicago have endured a tough season that has failed to ever pick up. They sit bottom of the table and have the fewest points in Major League Soccer after 24 games. Frank Yallop’s side have won just one of their last seven and look like a team that knows it won’t make the playoffs.

A 1-0 home loss to the Colorado Rapids on Saturday was a real blow and they are now five points off Montreal Impact in sixth place with ten to play. Time is running out and the Fire’s performances are lacking the urgency they require.

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A clash with the league’s most in-form team will pose more problems and it’s difficult to see where the Fire’s wins will come from, especially with reports suggesting Shaun Maloney may have played his last game for the club as a transfer to Hull looks likely.

The Red Bulls are a side enjoying completely contrasting fortunes as they can do no wrong right now. A run of six unbeaten with five wins has catapulted them back into Eastern Conference and Supporters’ Shield contention.

A 3-0 win over Toronto in their last game only increased confidence and they are now five points behind rivals DC United, who they face on Sunday night, at the top of the East with four games in hand.

Jesse Marsch has his team back on track and a playoff berth looks to be guaranteed, with the Red Bulls now looking to maintain their form as the postseason approaches.

Photo: Denise McCooey

Photo: Denise McCooey

This will be the first meeting between the two this season. They will meet at Red Bull Arena in the return fixture on the final weekend of the regular season on October 25.

Chicago have won the past two meetings between the two and have not lost at home to the Red Bulls since 2005 so at least history is on the home team’s side.

Team News

Chicago Fire head coach Frank Yallop may not be able to call on Shaun Maloney anymore as the Scottish DP is believed to be closing in on a move to Hull City. David Accam is a doubt with an ongoing hamstring problem, while Gilberto may sit out again. Adailton is defintely out through injury.

The Red Bulls will have to play without Damien Perrinelle as the defender is suspended. Chris Duvall is out, while Kemar Lawrence and Ronald Zubar remain doubts. Shaun Wright-Phillips will be pushing for a start but will have to dislogdge Mike Grella from the side.

Key Points

Chicago Fire’s last five: D/W/L/D/L

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

Key Stat: New York Red Bulls have only ever won once at Chicago Fire in 15 attempts. That came in their first ever away game back in 2005 and they have now gone 14 straight without a win in Chicago.

Key Player: Sacha Kljestan – The Red Bulls midfielder has been excellent all season and he has two goals in New York’s last three road games. He picked up an assist in the 3-0 win over Toronto before this one and should be a real threat.

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Score Prediction

Chicago Fire 1-2 New York Red Bulls – The Fire will look to rally in their last home game before a gruelling four-game road swing but will prove too weak for the in-form Red Bulls here. New York look unstoppable right now and should face little trouble brushing Chicago aside as they look to win the Eastern Conference.

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MLS 2015 Season Preview: Chicago Fire

In the first of our MLS 2015 Season Previews, we take a look at what the Chicago Fire will be hoping for this year. We’ll have a new season preview up every day in the lead up to the season now so be sure to keep checking back for your team.

Chicago Fire will look to improve on what was a below par season in 2014 with the new-look squad that head coach Frank Yallop has put together. The Fire have splashed in order to improve their fortunes in 2015 following the marquee signings of Shaun Maloney, David Accam and Kennedy Igboananike to Designated Player contracts. And more additions are expected before the season gets underway.

Last season’s finish: Eastern Conference position: 9th – P34 – W6 – D18 – L10

What needs to change this year?

The Fire struggled last year with the amount of draws they accumulated and were very poor at hanging onto leads. Amazingly, Chicago managed to lose a total of 22 points from winning positions in 2014. This was the main reason for their league-high record of 18 draws (four more than any other MLS team). This season they will need to convert winning positions into points. A good way to secure these points is to find an out-and-out goalscorer, as Quincy Amarikwa only managed eight as their top scorer last season, and new DP’s Igboananike and Accam will be expected to find the net on a regular basis. It’s going to take a lot for the Fire to reach the playoffs in an even more competitive Eastern Conference this season.

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Key changes to squad:

Ins: Kennedy Igboananike – Forward (Designated Player), Shaun Maloney – Midfield/Forward (Designated Player), David Accam – Forward (Designated Player), Patrick Doody – Defender (Homegrown Player), Adailton – Defender.

Outs: Bakary Soumare – Defender, Patrick Ianni – Defender.

Key player: Shaun Maloney – Midfielder/Forward

Shaun Maloney will provide invaluable experience to a side that lacked inspiration last season when seeing off games. A creative forward who is adaptable in many formations, Yallop has made a good addition to his squad with Maloney. As a Designated Player he will command a key role in the team but do not be surprised if he plays multiple positions throughout the season as Yallop will want to use Maloney, and other versatile players like Harry Shipp, to his full advantage.

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One to watch: Harry Shipp – Midfield

A strong contender for MLS Rookie of the Year in 2014, Harry Shipp will want to follow up a solid first season by solidifying his spot in Yallop’s much-changed team. Shipp will benefit from the new additions and we fully expect him to still be a key player in a Chicago team that is out to prove a point this term.

Predicted finish: Eastern Conference – 7th

We expect a good showing from Chicago this season but we’re not convinced it will be enough for the playoffs as this is strongest the Eastern Conference has ever been. But as always, the MLS provides an entertaining watch, and anything can happen. The key will be how quickly all the new signings can gel together.

How do you think the Chicago Fire will fair in 2015?

Shaun Maloney captains Chicago Fire in debut draw with Norwich

Shaun Maloney wore the captain’s armband on his Chicago Fire debut yesterday as he played 45 minutes in a goalless draw with Norwich City at the Championship club’s Colney Training Centre.

Head coach Frank Yallop changed all eleven players at halftime as 22 players got their first preseason action under their belt in the 0-0 draw.

The Fire have been one of Major League Soccer’s busiest clubs this offseason and 11 of the 13 players brought in this winter played on Thursday.

Two of the new Designated Players started in attack with Kennedy Igboananike and Shaun Maloney accompanied by Harry Shipp up top in a 4-3-3 system.

David Accam, the third DP signing, is still away at the African Cup of Nations with Ghana but he will join up with his teammates within the next week.

Maloney captained the Men in Red on his debut before being replaced by Quincy Amarikwa at halftime with usual captain Jeff Larentowicz ruled out with a knee injury.

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Frank Yallop was pleased with what he saw from his side in the draw and starting preseason with a clean-sheet against a Norwich side with a few first-team regulars is a major positive.

“It was very good,” Yallop told reporters after the game. “We had two completely different units starting the first half and the second, so 22 players got to play a 45-minute spell, which is always good to start with.

“I feel like some of the soccer we played and our continuity [was good], and after nine or 10 days of training I thought we were quite bright, played some good stuff, and getting a clean sheet is always important.”

The Chicago Fire now move on to London where they will train with Queens Park Rangers before playing the Premier League club in a behind-closed-doors friendly on Thursday.

Shaun Maloney completes Chicago Fire switch, set to be unveiled today

The Chicago Fire have completed the capture of Scottish midfielder Shaun Maloney from Wigan Athletic, as expected, and the 32-year-old joins the Men In Red as their third Designated Player.

Maloney leaves Championship strugglers Wigan after three-and-a-half successful years with the club, in a spell that saw him win the FA Cup in 2013.

The Scotland International made 91 appearances for Wigan, scoring 15 goals and adding 17 assists for the Latics, and he can’t wait to be a part of a new-look Chicago Fire team in 2015.

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“I’m very happy to be joining the Fire,” Maloney said after sealing the move stateside. “I owe a lot to the manager Frank Yallop and the owner Andrew Hauptman for getting this done.

“I certainly didn’t expect it to get done this quickly, so I appreciate the faith that they’ve shown in me. It’s a brilliant league and I’m really hopeful that I’m going to enjoy Chicago and be a big part of what the club is building.”

Maloney is the third Designated Player signing the Fire have made during the offseason as the Eastern Conference club look to bounce back in 2015 after a poor campaign last year.

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International strikers Kennedy Igboananike and David Accam have both been added as DP’s and Maloney will hope to be the man to give those two service.

Harry Shipp was the Fire’s most influential player last season and he will be able to learn a lot from the experienced Maloney, who will add another dimension to Chicago’s attacking play.

Maloney will be unveiled as a Chicago Fire player today at Toyota Park during a press conference set to begin at 3:15PM GMT.

Is Shaun Maloney a good signing for the Chicago Fire?

Shaun Maloney set to join Chicago Fire as agreement reached with Wigan

Wigan Athletic midfielder Shaun Maloney is set to join Chicago Fire in the next few days after the MLS club reached an agreement with Wigan for his transfer.

Maloney’s current contract at Wigan is set to expire at the end of the season, but Chicago want him to join up with the squad in time for the start of the new season in March, and have made a move to sign the 31-year-old.

The Fire have been linked with a move for the Scottish midfielder for some time, but any move looked to have been doomed when Wigan accepted an offer from Premier League side Leicester City.

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However, Maloney could not agree personal terms with Leicester, and he is now set to become the latest British talent to make the move stateside to play in Major League Soccer.

“We’ve agreed terms with Chicago Fire for Shaun to leave imminently, so that is something that is going to be happening in the next day or so,” Wigan boss Malky Mackay told BBC Radio Manchester.

“There’s a deal been struck as to why Shaun’s not going to be waiting until the summer.

“There’s a financial situation and I’m respectful of the club’s position – I’ve got to be prudent in terms of the saving that we will make on Shaun’s wages and the transfer fee that can then be put to other things.”

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The Chicago Fire have made numerous changes this offseason and have already added two international strikers on Designated Player contracts in David Accam and Kennedy Igboananike.

Shaun Maloney will add so much creativity to the side and will undoubtedly help the development of Harry Shipp.

Maloney has scored two goals and picked up three assists in 20 games for Wigan this season.

Is Shaun Maloney a good signing for the Chicago Fire?

Chicago Fire looking to bring in Shaun Maloney to MLS as designated player

Chicago Fire‘s search for talent is ongoing and the club appear to have identified Wigan Athletic midfielder Shaun Maloney as a man worthy of a designated player contract.

The Scotland star netted a sensational winner in last week’s Euro 2016 qualifier against the Republic of Ireland, and is reportedly being offered a big-money contract if he chooses to join Chicago Fire this offseason.

The 31-year-old’s contract with Wigan is set to expire next summer, and that means the Latics may have to cash in now if the Fire come calling.

New boss Malky Mackay is keen to keep Maloney at the club as he looks to guide Wigan out of the Championship relegation-zone, but the player has reportedly expressed a desire to play in MLS.

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Chicago endured a poor season in 2014 and won the tied-lowest number of games with just six wins. A player of Maloney’s calibre would inject so much life into an attack that only scored 41 goals this year.

The former Celtic star won 13 trophies during his time in Scotland and then won the FA Cup with Wigan in 2013 as they beat Manchester City against all odds. His experience will undoubtedly help the side.

He would be a great addition to Frank Yallop’s side and would be able to help the development of players such as MLS Rookie of the Year candidate Harry Shipp.

The Fire are expected to make numerous changes to their roster this winter, and bringing in Shaun Maloney would certainly be a good bit of business.

Would you like to see Shaun Maloney make the move to MLS?