Published on March 31st, 2017 | by Ryan Voyles0
A New Day: Chicago Fire vs Montreal Impact Preview
Well, the Chicago Fire has done it. They’ve finally won the Bastian Schweinsteiger contest! After month after month of speculation, the legendary German midfielder is a member of the Men in Red and the Fire has won a battle against their old foe: irrelevancy. Show’s over folks, we can all go home now!
Oh wait, now they have to win on the field too?
Yes, after all the hoopla over the new acquisition, the team returns home this Saturday after a week-long break to take on a Montreal Impact side that’s sputtering with a combination of bad luck, inconsistent play and key injuries. The match starts an especially important three-game homestand for the Fire, who could clinch nine points in three weeks and truly signal to fans and the rest of the league that there will be no wooden spoon this season. No longer in the shadows, the club has captured the attention of both local and national media; and all the extra attentiona that comes along with it. Toyota Park is likely to be as close to sold out as it has been in years. The Fire needs to do whatever they can to keep the good vibes going, or else this potential turning point in the club’s history could burn down whatever goodwill has been created.
What to Watch For
Der Mann ist Heir
Let me be the 200th person to mention that Bastian Schweinsteiger is officially in MLS and will likely see some playing time on Saturday. Lots of digital ink has already been spilled on his arrival and what it means for Chicago, so I’ll be brief: the excitement in the stands this weekend could possibly be the most electric it has been in years. We’re still awaiting whether the German’s presence on the field will result in wins, but already it has been one from a purely PR standpoint.
With Schweinsteiger in camp this week, it looks near certain he will take the field at some point on Saturday either as a starter or substitute. Him taking the field should also give fans and observers an opportunity to see just how Veljko Paunović plans to tinker with his lineup to accommodate the German midfielder. GM Nelson Rodriguez has hinted at Schweinsteiger playing a sort of hybrid No. 10, which would likely mean Dax McCarty and Juninho will play deeper in the midfield. It also seems as though Arturo Alvarez will be the odd man out in the post-Bastian world, which is a shame for a guy who has been one of the better players on the field this season. Most of this chatter has just been people theorizing so far, so it will be nice to finally get some answers on Saturday.
Walking Wounded Montreal
The Fire will have more reasons to count their blessings aside from Schweinsteiger’s making his way stateside this week. While the German is expected to make an appearance for the home side on Saturday, Montreal will likely be without several of their best players. Ignacio Piatti will miss the match with a hip/groin injury, while Laurent Ciman and team captain Patrice Bernier are both highly doubtful for the match with their own elements.
Defender Ambroise Oyongo is also questionable after a bizarro incident involving his home country of Cameroon forgetting to book him a flight back home. (http://www.cbc.ca/sports/
Saturday may be a perfect storm for the Chicago Fire as they start a critical three-game homestand against three very beatable squads. It would be a shock to see this Fire side come out with anything less than renewed energy and determination to welcome what should be a raucous crowd at Toyota Park. A healthy Montreal side would have been an excellent barometer to test how good this Fire team can be this season, but they’ll be well below full-strength – and the injury to Piatti is especially brutal. With all that, I’m seeing a 3-0 Chicago Fire victory.
Oh, And Obligatory…