Chicago Fire vs New York Red Bulls preview: How to watch, kick-off time, team news, predicted lineups, and ones to watch
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Two Eastern Conference sides in real need of a win face off on Saturday night as the Chicago Fire hosts the New York Red Bulls at Soldier Field.

Chicago’s chaotic start to the season continued last weekend when they traveled to Atlanta United. They conceded early, but they grew into the contest as it went on. That, and a defensive mistake from the opposition, led to Kacper Przybyłko grabbing an equalizing goal with minutes to go. However, there was too much time left, and a stoppage time own-goal meant that the Fire were actually beaten on the afternoon.  

New York, meanwhile, suffered one of the worst defeats of the season so far, losing to bottom-dwellers CF Montréal. It was a nightmare performance for the Red Bulls, who gave up an own-goal of their own midway through the first half, and then had a player sent off midway through the second half. They conceded another goal in stoppage time to seal their fate, and the result meant that they had gone winless in their last five games.

All things considered, a victory here could be huge for either side.

Team news

Chicago will likely only be without youngsters Victor Bezerra and Justin Reynolds, although it’s unclear how much Jairo Torres and Gastón Giménez will be able to play since neither is fully fit.

New York’s in a worse spot for sure. They’re going through an injury crisis at the moment, with Serge Ngoma, Luquinhas, Lewis Morgan, Matt Nocita, Steven Sserwadda, and Frankie Amaya all out hurt. To make matters worse both Dante Vanzeir and Kyle Duncan are suspended for the contest.

Predicted lineups

Chicago Fire: Brady, Souquet, Terán, Czichos, M. Navarro, Herbers, F. Navarro, Gutiérrez, Shaqiri, Mueller, Kamara

New York Red Bulls: Miguel, Yearwood, Reyes, Nealis, Tolkin, Casseres Jr., Edelman, Carmona, Fernandez, Harper, Barlow

Ones to watch

Ezra Hendrickson
I don’t care if Ezra Hendrickson isn’t actually going to be on the field, he’s probably going to be the man who has the biggest influence on the contest.

We’re going to learn a lot about Chicago’s head coach this weekend. 

He faced loads of scrutiny last week with his starting lineup. He restored Xherdan Shaqiri to the first eleven, and he put him right back in the number 10 position. Brian Gutiérrez, meanwhile, was forced to play in a much deeper role.

The move did not work at all. Shaqiri had a woeful showing, and the balance of the rest of the team was thrown out of whack because of the personnel change. Then, when Shaqiri was brought off at the hour mark and the system was altered again, the Fire started to play better.

So, surely the right decision is to drop Shaqiri to the bench. That’s what a lot of the fanbase would do. However, there’s a pretty good chance that it’s not going to happen. Hendrickson has always been quick to call Shaqiri a starter and a key player for the side. He’s even said that the team was built around him in the attacking midfielder role.

Then again, the coach might not have any other choice. It’s clear that Chicago is best when Gutiérrez has the keys to the car. He brings so much more energy to the attack, and he’s been performing at an elite level this season when he’s utilized in his preferred role. You don’t even need to bench Shaqiri, you could just put the DP on the right wing.

Hendrickson has to get this one right. This is a must-win for the Fire, who have already dropped a decent amount of points at home despite playing pretty well. They can’t let this one slip too.

If he keeps Shaqiri in the #10 spot and the team struggles, then there’s going to be serious pressure on the head coach, and it'll mainly come from the Fire's supporters.

At least the replies to the starting lineup tweet will be funny.

Cory Burke
This is my favorite time of the year. It’s time to watch Cory Burke play the Chicago Fire again.

There wouldn’t be any sort of focus on him if he was any other striker. He used to be a more consistent threat, but he only had eight goals last year, and he’s yet to score this season. The Jamaican might not even start this contest, as he was hauled off at halftime in each of his team’s last two games.

However, this is Burke, and this is Burke against Chicago. He’s scored nine goals against them in as many appearances for crying out loud. They’re his favorite opposition by far, and he’ll look to add to his tally this weekend, whether he’s starting or coming off the bench.

The forward is still a danger, to be fair, even if he’s not in great form. His frame is his best asset. He’s stood at 6’4”, and he’s quite strong, which makes him a nuisance to deal with in the area. If a cross comes his way he’s able to muscle off his marker and finish off the play at a pretty steady rate.

New York could certainly use a goal or two from him. Their DP striker Dante Vanzeir is currently suspended, and they were already struggling in the final third with him in the lineup. Fortunately for them Burke knows how to score in an instant, and he absolutely knows how to score against Chicago.

Why not get onto the scoresheet once again, for old times sake?

Last time out

The most recent meeting between these two sides was a wild one.

Taking place in New York, the hosts opened the scoring early on after Lewis Morgan converted from the penalty spot. Chicago eventually tied things up before the end of the first half, as Chris Mueller snuck past the backline before slamming a shot into the roof of the net.

The contest descended into chaos following the break. The Fire took the lead themselves via a set-piece minutes in, as Xherdan Shaqiri’s cross was flicked-on by Jhon Durán right to Wyatt Omsberg, and he headed home from just a few yards out.

The Red Bulls responded a bit past the hour mark, and they were very lucky to do so. A first-time shot from Cameron Harper was hit right down the middle, but goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina failed to catch the ball, instead letting it go right through his hands.

Both teams pushed on in search of a winner, and it looked like the Fire were the ones who found it late on. They seemingly botched a counter attack with a poor final pass, but the ball ended up falling to Shaqiri in the box anyway. He made the most of the opportunity, calmly placing a low shot into the back of the net.

There was too much time left on the clock, though. Cristian Cásseres slipped Omir Fernandez into space down the left wing, and he picked out Patryk Klimala with a smart pass. He then did the rest, slotting home from close range to save a point for New York.

It was a thrilling contest, and it demonstrated why neither team ended the campaign near the top of the Eastern Conference standings.


How to watch

The match kicks off at 7:30 pm central time, and it will air live on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.