Atlanta United is finally back at the Benz after a five and a half month hiatus but it’s the Chicago Fire that’s looking to rain on the Five Stripes party. To scout out Saturday ‘s opposition we spoke with Ruben Tisch of Chicago’s SB Nation blog Hot Time in Old Town.
Q: Chicago’s season opener was a 2-2 draw with the New England Revolution. What were the main takeaways from it?
A: Basically, this team is the dictionary definition of duality. They have arguably the best attack in the league. The midfield trio of Álvaro Medrán, Gastón Giménez, and Luka Stojanović are an exceptional trio in the center of the park, and because of that, the attack is as fluid as it ever has been. Meanwhile, the defense can truly be a shambles sometimes. During the run of play, they look like a competent MLS defense. However, on set pieces, they have a tendency to switch off and turn into training cones— giving up cheap goals. It’s what happens against the Revs and it’s probably going to happen in most games this season unless their mentality changes.
Q: After missing out on the playoffs by one spot in 2020, what would be a successful 2021 from the Fire’s perspective?
A: Making the playoffs should be where this team is aimed, and not just squeaking in, either. They need to finish comfortably above the cutoff. The team has the talent to do it, but it all comes down to the club being able to solve their focus problems and stop giving up cheap goals. If they can do that, then there’s no reason they can’t finish forth or so in the east. Their attack is that good.
Q: What are your thoughts on Chicago’s logo fiasco? Do you have any high hopes for the next one (scheduled to be released in 2022) after the current was deemed too big a failure to remain?
A: Mostly, I’m tired of talking about it. The change was the last wish from an owner who was either too clueless to not do it, or hated the fanbase enough to do it on his way out the door out of spite. Everything coming back from the club seems like it’s going in the right direction. The Florian Cross, the C, and the 6 pointed star are all coming back, and we hope to see something in the summer. What I’m more excited about is the return to red primary jerseys in 2023, just in time for the 35th anniversary.
Q: This is Raphael Wicky’s second season in charge. What has characterized his tenure so far? Has he proved to be a good hire?
It’s hard to say, considering that he deserves a bit of a mulligan after last season. Something he does have over the previous technical staff is that he and GM Georg Heitz seem to be on the same page as far as personnel goes. And he has a play on how to handle every game. Whether it works or not remains to be seen.
Q: What’s your starting lineup and score prediction for Saturday?
A: The Lineup will probably be similar to what we saw against New England. A 4-2-3-1 with Shuttleworth in goal, a back four of Bornstein, Calvo, Kappelhof (or Pineda), and Sekulic. The midfield central triowill be Medrán, Giménez, and Stojanović. With Offor or Aliseda (if healthy) on the left and Frankowski on the right. Robert Beric will be the starting striker.
As for a prediction, I think Atlanta probably win. Either 2-1 or 3-2.