Published on May 16th, 2017 | by Ryan Voyles0
Prove It: Chicago Fire vs Colorado Rapids Preview
Home matches truly have been the lazarus pit so truly needed by the Chicago Fire this season. Whenever they are coming off a spotty road loss, the team has been able to revive themselves in the warm embrace of Toyota Park.
That was again highlighted this weekend, when the Fire thrashed defending MLS Cup winner Seattle Sounders 4-1 in front of a reportedly sold out stadium. The Fire are now undefeated (4-1-0) in five home matches this season, outscoring their opponents 12-3 in the friendly confines of Bridgeview.
Just five days after that impressive win over the Sounders, the Fire will wrap up their short two-game homestand against a Colorado Rapids side that’s attempting the rare worst-to-(almost)-first-to-
While many of the names are the same from the side that finished two points away from the Supporters’ Shield, this is a Rapids team that currently sits in the cellar of league standings, with only seven points in nine matches.
Three of those points were claimed this weekend in an impressive 3-0 home victory against San Jose, but the Rapids won’t have altitude on their side come Wednesday night.
And with that tease, let’s go into the things to watch segment of the preview!
As started earlier, Toyota Park has become a place where the Fire players can approach each match confident they can claim at least one point. While competition has not exactly been top of the line so far, there’s no denying that the Fire have handled their business at home with four wins in five matches.
Perhaps the coolest, non-Schweini things to happened this year has been the growing interest in fans to flock down to Bridgeview to catch the Fire live in action.
Attendance numbers have noticeably trended upwards since the arrival of Bastian Schweinsteiger; but thankfully the Fire have been able to provide attendees with more than just a chance to watch the German sensation mull about the midfield for a crap side.
It all culminated during Saturday’s match, when an announced attendance of 20,153 officially marked the first sellout at Toyota Park in two years. Say what you will about Toyota Park and its location (and there is plenty to say), but Saturday was proof the environment there can be among the best in MLS if the team can give fans something to latch on to.
It’s unlikely the crowd will be anywhere close to that against the Rapids, thanks to being midweek, but hopefully the team will give those in attendance more reasons to keep coming back.
Rapid Reduction in Offense
Last year’s Rapids made their mark with pillow-to-face smothering defense while the offense did just enough to win matches.
The offense stats haven’t changed much this season, but the defense has not been able to maintain its destroyer of offenses pace.
After scoring the second-fewest goals of any team last season, the Rapids are worst in the league this season with eight goals in nine matches. The number is worse when split by home/road, as the Rapids have only scored one goal in four away matches.
That offensive ineptitude has prevented the Rapids from getting anything going this season, and one hopes the Fire are not the team that allows Kevin Doyle or Alan Gordon to look like capable MLS attackers.
The defensive numbers are not nearly as ghastly as the offense, as the Rapids still find ways to smother opponents with their clog the midfield and prevent opponents from generating a cohesive attack.
But like the offense, much of that defending seems to stay at home for the Rapids, as they have conceded seven goals in four away matches.
One wild card in this will be the return of goalkeeper extraordinaire Tim Howard, who returned to the team last week after a three-game suspension after a situation with fans in Kansas City. He’s allowed only one goal in two matches, so the American may be enough to keep the Rapids in the game.
(Disclaimer: I’m terrible at predictions)
Midweek games can be tough for an prognosticator, as one won’t know until close to game time who will start and who will be rested ahead of this weekend’s match in DC. Looking at the recent trends, it becomes hard to pick against the Fire at home, especially against such an offensively inept Rapids team. I’ll go with a 1-0 Fire victory, with David Accam scoring the lone goal to give the Fire their fifth win in six home matches.