Chicago Fire host Sporting Kansas City at Toyota Park on Saturday March 10th in what will be the only match between the two sides during the MLS season.
Last year this fixture lead to a 3-2 victory for Sporting in a game which Bastian Schweinsteiger was constantly isolated as a weakness.
He was getting outpaced by attackers such as Latif Blessing and Daniel Salloi. Yet the former Bayern player who is past his prime has returned for another season, and told reporters at a press conference that the Chicago Fire are “hoping to take the next step this year,” this would require them to make it past the first round of the playoffs.
That will put a lot of pressure on a Chicago side that lost one of its key players in David Accam. While Sporting will also feel similar pressure after an appalling 2-0 defeat to New York City FC in their opening game. (A game that lead some fans to question Peter Vermes’s desire to win)
They also accused him of experimenting with the team against NYCFC instead of putting out the best Xl.
This sets up a compelling game that could shape the season for both teams. Will Chicago improve on last year? Is Peter Vermes done experimenting? Can Nemanja Nikolic repeat his success last year? Will Sporting bounce back from NYCFC? Who will take the striker job for Sporting? Will the nerves from both sides lead to a conservative, low scoring game or, an up and down thriller? Who Knows? You can find out 5pm central time Saturday.
Players to Watch:
Sporting KC: Felipe Gutierrez, Whoever Plays Striker, Salloi
Chicago Fire: Dax McCarty, Nemanja Nikolic
Last Match Up:
July 30th 2017: Sporting KC 3-2 Chicago Fire
MATCH DAY EXPIRENCE from last year’s game: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15il0im2Pok&t=42s
Previous MLS game:
Sporting: SKC 0-2 NYCFC
Chicago: (SKC is first game of 2018 season)
Where and when is the game?
Toyota Park Saturday March 10th 2018 at 5pm (Central time)
Predicted Starting Xl for Chicago
(4-2-3-1, right to left)
GK: Stefan Cleveland — Brandon Vincent, Christian Dean, Johan Kappelhof, Matt Polster — Tony Tchani, Dax McCarty — Jon Bakero, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Aleksander Katai — Nemanja Nikolic
Predicted Starting Xl for Sporting KC
(4-3-3, right to left)
GK: Tim Melia — Graham Zusi, Ike Opara, Matt Besler, Jimmy Medranda — Felipe Gutierrez, Ilie Sanchez, Roger Espinoza — Gerso Fernades, Daniel Salloi, Johnny Russell
Overall: Chicago lead the series 26-15-11
At Toyota Park Chicago are 18-4-2
Last meeting at Chicago: Chicago Fire 1, Sporting Kansas City 0 (July 13, 2016)
Center Referee: Jose Carlos Rivero
Assistant Referees: Jeremy Hanson, Logan Brown
4th Official: Fotis Bazakos
VAR: David Gantar
Written by Nathan Mahloch (Twitter, @KansasSportsTV)