Published on June 27th, 2017 | by Ryan Voyles0
Quest for the Cup 2017: Fire vs. Cincinnati FC Preview
The Chicago Fire’s road to reclaim the mantle of “King of the Cup” stays in the heartland this week, with another road match against a USL side.
Where their match two weeks ago saw the team head down I-55 to take out St. Louis FC, Wednesday night will see the Fire cut through Indiana on their way to the Queen City to take on a spunky Cincinnati FC at Nippert Stadium. Cincy will head into the match coming off the high one gets from taking down a regional rival, as they did when they defeated the Columbus Crew two weeks ago. Wednesday will also give the MLS hopefuls a chance to show off in the national spotlight, as ESPN2 will air the match live. (Ed. Note: The match has now been moved to the Mothership itself! Be sure to tune into the main ESPN for some sweet sweet Open Cup action)
Needless to say, Wednesday should be a good time off the Ohio River in what could be a preview of a feisty MLS rivalry in the next decade.
And now, what to watch for!
All-In For the Cup
As noted above, it will be interesting to see what lineup the Fire put out onto the field against Cincinnati. The match will be their second match in five days, and the Fire will return home to host Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday night. Staying in the Midwest will ease up on travel concerns, but Veljko Paunovic will have some choices on who to play and who to rest for this weekend. Bastian Schweinsteiger did not travel with the team to St. Louis, but could very well play on Wednesday with the team missing both David Accam and Dax McCarty to national team duties. The match would be as good a time as any for players like Juninho to reestablish their position on the team, as well as for Michael De Leeuw to finally break his hard-luck, season-long scoreless drought.
When the Crowd is a Rockin’
No offense to St. Louis FC, who were standing-room only at their far-flung suburban stadium when the Fire came to town, but Nippert Stadium will be a whole different beast. As someone who has only read the various profile pieces on Cincy’s fandom, it will be great to see just what all the ruckus about their home crowd is all about. More than 30,000 are expected for Wednesday’s match, and Cincy FC has already developed a home atmosphere that compares to some of the best in the country. The crowd made their presence felt against Columbus and likely will not miss a beat when the Fire take the field. It’ll be fun to see how the Fire manage the noise and if the Cincy fans live up to the hype.
David V. Goliath Pt. II
When it’s all said and done though, this match will still feature one of the top MLS clubs this season versus a mid-table USL side. Not to take anything away from all the good things going on in Cincy, but they are still a lower tier side that has gone 5-5-5 this season, good for sixth place in the eastern conference. Neither their offense (17 goals in 15 matches) or defense (15 goals allowed) are spectacular, and the Fire are as hot as any team across all divisions of U.S. Soccer. Barring a complete letdown performance, the Fire at their best should be able to beat Cincy at their best.
If the Fire start another A- squad on Wednesday night, then they should not have much problem punching their ticket to the quarterfinals. Going with a 2-0 victory, with goals from Arturo Alvarez and the long-awaited first goal from De Leeuw.