Although they are sixth in the MLS table right now, the Chicago Fire have shown improvement since last season. Chicago has gone a whole three games without conceding a goal, a big achievement considering how the defense was in shambles the year before. But now they have a huge test as they welcome the Montreal Impact who are the top of the table in the Eastern Conference and boast a talented attack.
Montreal starting off strong
The Impact have started off the season in great form as they find themselves top of the table with nine points. They most recently picked up a 2-0 win over the Columbus Crew and stopped a two game losing streak with the victory.
Montreal has great attacking players and will look to test Chicago's backline. With eight goals, second most in the conference, the Impact have shown that they are a force to be reckoned with on the offensive end. Up top is the legend himself Didier Drogba. The Ivorian was a sparkplug for Montreal last year and continues to do so this year. He is always great in the box especially in the air. Drogba has the potential to pull a miracle goal of out his hat at any time and it is truly amazing to watch. Ignacio Piatti will look to work the wings and give service to Drogba often in this game. Those two are a dangerous combo to deal with.
This will be a reunion game for Harry Shipp who was traded from the Fire this offseason to the Impact. The trade was truly shocking as it caught many people off guard, including Shipp. He was the star of Chicago's midfield and his youth made him an even better player. But Chicago decided to move on from the youngster and now face will see him in another jersey. Shipp will look to do things he does best as he will be in the middle of the park and be on the ball most of the time.
Chicago working on possession
The Fire are slowly growing and growing each game and for head coach Veljko Paunović, this is the next step. The Fire had a good game against NYCFC but drew 0-0 after they had a goal taken away due to a questionable offsides call. But the Fire must now look to their toughest test yet as they face the best team in the league.
One positive so far has been the play of the defense and goalie Matt Lampson. Many were surprised that Lampson has been doing this well in the starting role and will probably be the starting keeper even when Sean Johnson returns back to full health. Johan Kappelhof has been the rock at the back for Chicago and has taken the leader role for the defense. For a defense that looked out of order last year, Chicago has cleaned up nicely so far and has done well against some good forwards. They were able to hold David Villa and Kei Kamara in check in their last three games and thanks to some wonderful saves by Lampson in their most recent fixture, keep clean sheets as well.
But Chicago may be without speedster David Accam again as he is out with a leg injury. Accam gives Chicago a great boost on offense as his pace can cause a lot of problems for defenders. Chicago will once again look to Kennedy Igboananike and Gilberto up top as strikers for the team. Also look for Răzvan Cociș to be involved in the attack as well as we have seen him playing in a more offensive role in the past two games. Normally in the heart of the midfield, Cociș has gone up and provided support to the two strikers and has come close to some solid scoring chances. Chicago needs all the help they can get on offense and their captain might just give them that.