Tag Archive for Chicago Fire

Real Salt Lake will look to warm up vs Fire – match preview

So for the first time in Rio Tinto history, RSL opened the MLS season at home and while that first match rust was clearly evident there were also signs of potential.  The highlight was the PK save by Nick Rimando against Giovinco, but other than that the 0-0 draw played out a lot like one would expect a 0-0 draw, not a whole lot of excitement.

The question is heading on the road for week two can RSL find a way to create more chances and score goals?  It has been since August of last year that RSL won a MLS match, so getting things back into the positive column would be good.  If this were a match against the Fire of the last few years one could feel really good even when playing on the road but the reality is that Chicago may be the most improved team in MLS.  The additions of Dax McCarty and Juninho immediately make them better, add in DP forward Nemanja Nikolic and an ever improving David Accam and all of a sudden you have a team that is a lot more dangerous than in the past.

The last time RSL lost to Chicago was back in 2011, and overall these two have beaten the other 6 times with 7 draws, so this is a fairly balanced competition, 2017 should be seasons that both teams look to improve their overall performance.

Keys to the Match:

With RSL the issue will be consistency across 90 minutes, late last year and even on opening day they came out and looked very flat for the first 10-15 minutes if not longer and the reality is you can’t do that against Chicago, as TFC who’s starters gave up 3 early goals to Chicago in the final match of their respective preseasons. So my first key is to simply start solid, this will be the home opener for the Fire who have excited fans when they are a bad team and this year are very excited about their team. Getting past the first 15 minutes without giving up too many chances will be critical, the weather will be iffy so playing in control will be important.

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The 2016 MLS season is here, what to expect

Today is the day, the 21st season of MLS action gets under way, in many ways 2016 is the calm after one storm and before an even bigger one, 2015 saw two new team jump into the fray of MLS (NYCFC and Orlando City SC) both came with some big names, Kaka, Frank Lampard (well eventually), David Villa, Mix Diskerud (is he still a big name?) and both struggled on the pitch to compete as neither made the playoffs in a rather weak Eastern Conference. It was also the start of the new TV deal for MLS, a new CBA, and lots and lots of new sponsorships for the league.  So with no new teams this year and a year where there simply haven’t been any of those huge signings like last year, don’t forget we also saw Steve Gerrard, Jermaine Jones, Giovani dos Santos and Sebastian Giovinco join the league, but maybe those come this summer?

There are new stars but smaller names, like Ashley Cole, Lucas Ontivero, Yura Movsisyan, Carlos Gruezo and Shkelzen Gashi, we also the return of a player I really like is Simon Dawkins now a DP with San Jose and there are a lot of open DP spots around the league.  We saw some big name players change places, Dan Kennedy, Jeff Larentowicz, and Mike Magee to LA Galaxy, Marco Pappa and Jermaine Jones to Colorado, Marcelo Sarvas to DC United, Maximiliano Urruti and Mauro Rosales to FC Dallas, Christian Miadana to Houston, Harry Shipp to Montreal, Brad Davis and Justin Mapp to Sporting KC, Will Johnson and Clint Irwin to Toronto FC and Blaz Perez to Vancouver.

All of this before we see 2 new teams likely join the league in 2017 and then 2 more in 2018, so even without those huge name signings it is a big year for the league as those new sponsors will want to see some ROI and the league needs to find a way to get the TV numbers moving up in a hurry.

So as a fan what should you expect?  Will it be another year with the big clubs missing out on MLS Cup (come on none of you picked Portland vs Columbus last year, don’t lie about it)? Well it is a crap shoot to try to pick who will win what at this point of the season, MLS has too many variables to be very accurate but I do have some thoughts

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Who is going to win the Supporters’ Shield? What the numbers say

So one thing is clear in all sports including MLS, there is no place like home.  In MLS the home team wins most of the matches, no team in the league this year has won more matches on the road than they have at home.  In fact only Toronto FC with 2 road wins and 2 home wins are even close, the top teams in both the East and West all get a result in a majority of their home matches.

 

  • Real Salt Lake – 8-2-3 at home, 5-6-3 on the road
  • Montreal – 9-1-3 at home, 3-6-2 on the road
  • Los Angeles – 8-1-2 at home, 4-8-2 on the road

and on and on, so while one could spend a lot of time trying to analysis in depth the remaining schedules of MLS teams, looking at who they play but to be brutally honest I think that simply looking at how teams have performed at home and on the road so far this year provides a great deal of insight on how they likely will perform for the remainder of the year.  Now it isn’t bullet proof, we have seen teams get hot down the stretch or go cold but averages are fairly good indicators.  So let’s take a look at the how things look like:

Real Salt Lake has average 2.08 points per match at home, and 1.28 points per match on the road thru their 27 matches played earning 45 points.  RSL has 4 remaining home matches so if trends stay the same they would earn 8 more points at home, they have 3 more matches on the road and should get 4 points on the road.  So with 45 points earned and a projected 12 points, RSL will likely end the season with 57 points.

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Real Salt Lake vs. Chicago Fire – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly – Match Preview

If there is a match this season that RSL should be a no questions asked win, it would be hosting the Chicago Fire at home.  Think about this, the Fire have scored just 6 goals so far this season, while surrendering 16, so their 2-7-1 record is no real surprise to anyone.  I have for the last several seasons believe that the Fire were as good as Marco Pappa played, but now he is gone along with his 21 goals and 12 assists (his tally for the last 3 seasons).  I thought the replacements brought in by the Fire would be able to lift the load, Jeff Larentowitcz is as tough as they come in MLS, and Joel Lindpere has been one of my favorites since entering the league, but neither seem to have found their groove with the Fire. Instead the Fire find themselves looking for an identity again, something this team seems to have done each year since the departure of Blanco.

Now is when Real Salt Lake need to get a streak going, everyone from the fans to the staff know that this stretch of 4 league matches at home with 3 against tough Western Conference opponents is going to be huge.  What we can’t do is overlook the Chicago Fire, who actually have a winning record against RSL, 6-3-6 overall and 3-2-2 when playing us at home.  At home this year RSL is 3-1-1 with just 6 goals scored and 4 goals allowed, the Fire are 0-4-1 on the road this year, with 1 goal scored and 9 allowed.  Real Salt Lake is finally starting to look healthy but with a US Open Cup match looming next Tuesday, will the lineup reflect the 3 matches in 8 days they will be facing.  If ever there was a trap game for RSL winners of 3 of their last 4 matches, it might be this one.

The Good:

Nick Rimando – As the journey towards the All Time MLS Clean Sheet record progresses, Nick keeps racking up things like Save of the Week, he just picked up his second one of the season this week.  So far this season Nick has picked up 3 clean sheets and has kept his GAA at 1.00, in his career he has faced the Fire 29 times with a 1.23 all time GAA, with RSL he has been in goal 10 times against the Fire with a 0.80 GAA.  Perhaps one of the biggest nights outside of MLS Cup’s for Nick Rimando came on November 14th, 2009 when after 120 minutes of shutout soccer, Nick stood in goal for the PK shootout against the Fire at Toyota Park, 3 times he stopped them and that was enough for RSL to pick up the victory and move on to MLS Cup.  I hope he doesn’t have to stop any PK’s on Saturday, but we have already seen him do so twice this season.

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