Preview: Chicago Fire (h)
When? Saturday August 21 5 p.m. PT, 8 p.m. ET and 1 a.m. BST (22/8).
Where? Exploria Stadium, Orlando, FL.
How can I catch the action? MLS Live on ESPN+ and DAZN for residents of the United States and Canada. For central Florida residents it's Fox 35 Plus and LionNation TV. The game is also available via radio locally on FM 96.9 The Game, Accion 97.9 FM and 810 AM. The game is not currently scheduled for broadcast in the UK.
The recent point in Nashville will have undoubtedly buoyed the Lions. Make no mistake here, though; a draw simply will not do for Orlando City. A tumultuous run of form has seen Oscar Pareja's team slip out of the home play-off berths. Our visitors, meanwhile, have enjoyed something of a renaissance of late, with back-to-back victories over the Red Bulls and Columbus. That run of form was brought to an end by Inter Fort Lauderdale last time out, however. Regardless, this is a must win game for Orlando, particularly as we head into a stretch of 3 consecutive home matches.
All that being said, though, this won't be an easy game. This is a Chicago side that has already one upped us this season, and that has dispatched top teams such as Columbus and ourselves. Not to mention they've also stung us in years gone by.
So without further ado, let's get stuck into what promises to be another crucial match-up.
As much as this is a must win game for Orlando, as well as being a game they should win, it'll by no means be a given. They actually rank quite highly in terms of XG; their 1.64 overall rating has them ranked 7/27. They've scored 23 goals so far this season, which places them 19/27 in the overall scoring charts. What does this tell us? They're fairly clinical, that's what. They have a conversion rate of 10.3% from their 214 shots on goal, scoring every 78.3 minutes. Not too shabby.
Interestingly their away scoring statistics are nowhere near as impressive as their overall stats. They average a goal every 127 minutes, with an XG of 0.71 away from Illinois (figure 1). They've also failed to score in 43% of their away games so far this season. So, whilst they may be fairly clinical overall, that seems to abandon them on the road. They also seem to ship an alarming number of goals on the road; conceding an average of 2.43 goals per match. They concede every 37 minutes away from home. Fingers crossed that trend will continue this weekend.
Figure 1 shows Chicago's XG and scoring statistics.
Figure 2 shows Chicago's conceding statistics.
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Chicago, like ourselves, have more than a few injury concerns heading into this game. Kenneth Kronholm and Ignacio Aliseda are definitely out, whilst Javier Casas Jr., Miguel Navarro and Alvaro Medrán are all doubts.
According to the MLS Injury Report, Orlando City will continue to be without Alexandre Pato, Sebas Mendez and Uri Rosell. Mauricio Pereyra is listed as questionable, but he took to the field in Nashville, so should be OK. Oscar Pareja will make a decision on Nani and Pedro Gallese before the weekend. No word on Daryl Dike as yet.
Possible starting XI
I wouldn't anticipate wholesale changes from this team, but I'd be surprised if Alvaro Medrán didn't start. He's a wiley character, who is technically very sound. Chicago are going to need to win the midfield battle to come out on top in Orlando, and you have to think he would help them:
He mightn't always be the first name on the team sheet, but you do have to wonder why? With 7 goals and 2 assists from his 10 starts and 7 substitute appearances, he's been leading the pack in terms of goal contributions in Chicago. He's proven himself to be pretty lethal in front of goal boasting an impressive 33.3% conversion rate from 21 total shots. He's also scored at a rate of one every 128.9 minutes. Oh, and he's currently on a run of 3 goals in 3 games. Impressive stuff.
Chicago are 5-5-10 on the season so far, and currently sit 11th in the east, 7 points back from the dotted line. They recently won back-to-back games against the Red Bulls before slipping in Fort Lauderdale last time out.
Orlando Cit on the other hand have been in somewhat patchy form. Their 8-7-4 record has them sat 5th in the east, having dropped out of the top 4 for the first time in a long time.
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