From being on the receiving end of a 3-1 route to Charlotte FC to putting 4 past Colorado, this has been quite the week of extremes for Atlanta United but it’s not done just yet. The Five Stripes close out a run of three games in seven days with a visit to an ailing Chicago Fire Saturday night.
Since we last saw Chicago back in late April, a lot has gone down in the Fire camp (and not much of it any good). Head coach Ezra Hendrickson lost his job the following week after 3-0 collapse against the Nashville SC, and in came Franck Klopas for a third spell on the sidelines. Most agreed that Hendrickson was far from the cause of Chicago’s problems, however, and the results since then have supported that claim. Chicago lost to Charlotte 2-1 Wednesday, although it did record back-to-back wins over Saint Louis and is onto the Open Cup Round of 16. That’s coming up on May 24th, so some squad rotation might be on the cards this weekend. In MLS, though, Chicago is down to 13th with 14 points and the 10th-best attack and 4th-worst defense in the East. In short, Chicago is what its record says; a team with far too many holes to aspire for anything better than one of the lower playoff spots.
Of course, that doesn’t mean Atlanta should expect an easy win come Saturday. Chicago outplayed the Five Stripes in the reverse fixture at the Benz and will have what the history books say is a major home-field advantage this weekend. Atlanta hasn’t won in Illinois since 2018, picking up one draw and three losses in the last four outings with a combined score of 1-10. Atlanta’s high-scoring win over Colorado is a positive sign that it can still beat up on weak teams at home and secures fourth place for another week, but for now, nothing more, especially if the Five Stripes’ road woes continue. Following Chicago, Atlanta also has a trip to Orlando on its itinerary, and then two tricky home games against New England and DC. Starting a winning run at Chicago would be a great way to prepare for a rough stretch of the season and show that things weren’t quite as bad as the past three weeks have suggested, but we’ve been tricked by a false dawn one already.
Atlanta leads the all-time series against Chicago 7W-1D-5L, including a 2-1 win decided by a stoppage-time own goal back on April 22nd.
Predicted Starting XIs
Prediction: Chicago Fire 0-2 Atlanta United
Atlanta will make it 2 wins from two and heap more misery on the Fire with a Giorgos Giakoumakis brace powering the way to three points.