FCC looks for rebound outing against Chicago Fire

Yuya Kubo takes a shot against the Chicago Fire. June 2, 2023 - Photo courtesy Brian Mack
Yuya Kubo takes a shot against the Chicago Fire. June 2, 2023 - Photo courtesy Brian Mack

It is often said that fire has the opportunity to refine or show ones imperfections. It has a tendency to melt things down to the purest essence of itself and can help reveal the beauty and perfection that lies just beneath an outer patina. Unless it is the Chicago Fire over the last decade, in which case, it feels like it only shows imperfections.

Entering Saturday as the host of FC Cincinnati, the ownership will hope that an offseason of broad declarations that they would return to the winning ways of the old franchise will start to show itself.

The Chicago Fire have been toiling in mediocrity for the last decade, only making the playoffs one time, and struggling to put a cohesive team together. However, ownership promised big changes and seems to have attacked their issues with more clarity than in previous seasons.

Previously when they were looking to spend their way into the playoffs they had relied on one star to propel them to success, which they did in signing Swiss star Xherdan Shaqiri in 2022. The results didn’t follow, and they changed their strategy for 2024 by finding targets for their biggest needs in central midfield and striker. 

In central mifield, they went out and got the second-largest MLS free agent target in Kellyn Acosta. The MLS star has previously made multiple appearances for the US Men’s National Team and was a lynchpin for LAFC, a team that has reached MLS Cup finals in the last two seasons. 

Chicago is hoping he can lead the team to a more stable base for their defense, and allow for new striker Hugo Cuypers to score routinely. Coming from Gent in the Belgian Jupiler Pro League, Cuypers enters with a goal-scoring reputation, departing as the league’s Golden Boot winner in 2023 where he scored 34 total goals.

With their two biggest questions answered in the roster, Chicago continued to evolve, trying to help budding homegrown winger Brian Gutierrez emerge as a burning beacon of pride. 

They were also trying to do so by bringing in FCC draftee Andrew Gutman to play left back behind Gutierrez and provide overlapping width in the attack. Unfortunately, those plans seem to be momentarily derailed, as Gutman picked up an injury in the first week, and is expected to miss this week.

In the end, the Chicago Fire are hoping this offseason’s overhaul will help to reignite a fanbase that is desperate for success. With the return of their iconic Red home jerseys. A crowd is expected to be north of 25,000 (the Fire are 4-1-4 in games at Soldier Field with a crowd over 25k). On a short week of rest having dispatched Cavalier SC in the Concacaf Champions Cup on Wednesday, FCC will have an uphill challenge to douse the fledgling fires of hope the Fire have for this season.

When: Saturday, March 2, 8:30 p.m. ET

Where: Soldier Stadium, Chicago, IL

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