The MLS season rolls on this weekend, and Saturday sees an Eastern Conference clash as the Chicago Fire hosts Inter Miami at Soldier Field.
Chicago are, for lack of a better term, down bad. They were beaten once again in their last match, losing 1-0 away to D.C. United. It was another poor performance from the Fire, and the result meant that they’ve only taken one point from their first five games of the campaign.
Things are better for Miami. They played the role of spoiler this past weekend, beating FC Cincinnati 3-2 in their first-ever game at TQL Stadium. Inter have been quite inconsistent this year, but there’s a chance that they might finally be making the most of all their talent.
It may be for different reasons, but both sides will be looking for a big win in this contest.
Neither team are dealing with too many absences at the moment, which is good.
The Fire will be without Kenneth Kronholm and Stanislav Ivanov as they continue to recover from their respective long-term injuries. There is some good news, as Carlos Terán should be able to return this weekend, and there’s a chance that Ignacio Aliseda could do the same.
Miami will be without Jorge Nicolás Figal and Robbie Robinson, who are both dealing with hamstring issues, while homegrown Ian Fray is also likely to miss out.
Chicago Fire: Shuttleworth, Sekulić, Omsberg, Calvo, Bornstein, Pineda, Giménez, Herbers, Medrán, Gutiérrez, Berić
Inter Miami: McCarthy, Ulloa, Shawcross, González Pírez, Jones, Gregore, Matuidi, Morgan, Pizarro, Shea, G. Higuaín
Ones to watch
It was quite surprising to see Brian Gutiérrez in the starting eleven against D.C United.
He had only made one appearance in the first four games of the season, and that was just a 21 minute cameo off the bench versus the New York Red Bulls when the Fire were already losing 2-0. Still only 17-years-old, few expected to see Raphaël Wicky turn to him at this stage of the campaign.
However, after his stellar performance in D.C., no one should be shocked to see him keep his spot in the lineup.
Gutiérrez absolutely made the most of the chance given to him. A livewire in the early stages, he seemed like the only Chicago player that wanted to make an impact on proceedings. He went for a close-range volley that was unfortunately hit right at the goalkeeper before having another effort hit the post and bounce out of play.
The midfielder did fade a bit as the contest went on, and he was subbed off near the hour mark, but that’s understandable considering his age and lack of first-team experience. That shouldn’t take anything away from his strong showing, though, and he deserves to start once again this weekend.
Whether or not that happens remains to be seen, but if it does, then Gutiérrez will likely be ready to build upon his promising performance.
Gonzalo Higuaín is starting to score goals, which is good news for Miami, and bad news for the rest of the league.
He’s already grabbed four this season, and he’s even gotten an assist in that time as well. The Argentine was huge in his team’s last game, as his two instinctive strikes were what ultimately made the difference on the day versus Cincinnati.
Higuaín’s excellent run of form will be a relief for Miami. After coming to the club with plenty of hype and fanfare near the final stretches of last year, he struggled early on. The Designated Player missed a penalty on his debut, and then he started a skirmish immediately afterward. He was then shown a red card at the end of another game later in the season, which led to a one-match suspension. He wasn’t even scoring much during this time, only grabbing one goal before the end of the campaign.
The forward has turned things around, though, and he’ll look to continue his purple patch on Saturday. He’ll fancy his chances against a Fire team that have been leaky defensively, using his clever movement and shooting ability to potentially run riot at Soldier Field.
If Higuaín can keep playing at this level, then Miami will be legitimate contenders in the Eastern Conference.
Last time out
This matchup will be a historic one, as it will be the first time these two sides have ever faced off.
How to watch
The contest will air live on UniMás at 6:00 p.m. EST.