As Atlanta United and Chicago Fire near a rematch seventy days after the Five Stripes’ 3-1 victory back in April, we also got back in touch with Ruben Tisch from Hot Time in Old Town to see what’s changed in Illinois.
Q: Since we last talked back in April Chicago has fallen to 14th with 5 points and only one win. The Fire’s seven goals scored is a league-worst and Robert Beric only has one strike to his name. What’s gone wrong? Who’s most to blame?
A: It’s systemic with this club. Despite having a midfield capable of controlling the game, they have a striker who is incapable of scoring goals. Robert Beric has either lost confidence in himself, been found out by the rest of the league, or more probably, both. Beric is a one dimensional player up top. He’ll try to beat the back shoulder of whichever center back is closest, or he’ll drop deep and try to chase the ball, putting himself out of position.
And the team has noticed. He’s not getting a lot of service from the players around him in large part because they don’t trust him to do the job. In that sense, Beric is the most to blame for his struggles. However, the fact that the midfield has largely given up on him bare 4 or 5 chances a game is also a problem. Something has to be done to repair their relationship, and if it’s beyond repair, the FO needs to find someone else to do the job.
Q: What needs to happen for Chicago to rescue its season? Do you have any hope that Raphael Wicky is the man to turn things around?
A: The fact of the matter is this is beyond Raphael Wicky at this point. It doesn’t seem to matter who he plays or what tactics he tries to use, the people he has to put out there aren’t good enough to win consistently. This is a front office thing. Georg Heitz, the Fire’s president, failed his manager with the roster he put together. The club only signed four players in the offseason, and only two of them have seen minutes. One was injured in preseason and one was a minor who can’t join the team until next season.
When your team only won 5 games last season, that’s just unacceptable. The team was set up to fail by a front office who was banking on last year’s almost’s and what ifs to come good, and instead they’ve regressed in some ways.
Obviously, the band aid they need is to find someone to score goals consistently. With the opening of the transfer window coming on the 7th, they’ll need to address this quickly. The obvious answer is Jozy Altidore, who seems to be done in Toronto. But there are probably younger, better options out there who are slipping my mind.
Q: What starting eleven do you see Chicago rolling out Saturday? And what’s your score prediction?
A: They’ll probably run out something similar to the lineup that drew with Philadelphia in a 5-3-2. Sp Shuttleworth; Navarro, Calvo, Pineda, Kappelhof, Sekulic; Luka, Medran, Herbers; Aliseda, Beric.
As for a score, I’ll say 2-1 to Atlanta. The Fire will probably score, and it will look good for a while, but the defensive issues still aren’t solved.