IOTM Chicago

Charlotte FC are looking to extinguish a Chicago Fire side that is in red-hot form as the two teams meet for the first-ever time.

Here are three ingredients of the match against the Fire.

Stretch the Defense

The Fire have been one of the most defensively sound teams in the league this season having kept the 2nd most amount of clean sheets in the league this season. It’s in large part due to their double midfield pivot of Federico Navarro and Mauricio Pineda who stay compact and give teams little room to operate down the middle.

Wing play and moving the ball horizontally will be particularly important in this match as Chicago will load numbers centrally. Utilizing wingers and shifting the ball from side to side will help stretch Chicago’s defense to open up space for Charlotte’s midfielders to utilize. If Charlotte can stretch out Chicago’s stubborn defense, it’ll allow for more scoring opportunities.

Individual Quality

Speaking of scoring opportunities, the Fire are in the bottom third of doing creating them. Their main struggles have come on the offensive side this season but it’s not because of lack of quality.

The Fire have playmaker Xerdan Shaqiri, who previously has played for Bayern Munich and Liverpool, who his known for scoring wonder goals from nothing. Another one of their new additions was Chris Mueller who can hurt teams in transition and on the other wing is Jairo Torres whose trickiness can cause trouble.

As a collective, Chicago have struggled to get the most out of these guys together but it doesn’t mean they won’t be a threat. It will be important not to get complacent on defense because Chicago still have the individual quality to hurt Charlotte.

Stringing Results Together 

In order to stay in the playoff hunt, Charlotte needs to start stringing positive results together. The Eastern Conference is so incredibly tight that just winning back-to-back matches could have major implications on the standings. 

We’ve seen with the Fire the impact that stringing results together can make. They went from not at all in the playoff race to being a genuine competitor for playoffs after undefeated in their last four matches and winning three of those. 

Despite being three rankings beneath CLTFC, there is only a 2-point difference between the sides. Like almost every match from here to the end of the season, six points are on the line as the Fire are a direct playoff competitor.

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