Preview: Fire put 11-game unbeaten streak on the line at NYCFC

7-22 Matchup

Chicago Fire at New York City FC
2017 MLS Match Preview
Yankee Stadium – Bronx, N.Y.
Saturday, July 22 – 1 p.m. CT
WATCH: CSN Chicago Plus

Two of the Eastern Conference's top clubs meet for the first time this season, when New York City FC host the Chicago Fire at Yankee Stadium in a match that could ultimately sway the Supporters' Shield race. Toronto FC (39 points) just re-took the top spot with a Wednesday draw vs. NYCFC, with Chicago a point back and New York City trailing by four.

The visitors enter the match unbeaten since April 29, a streak that has now extended to 11 league matches, a pair of four-game winning streaks bracketed by draws; their most recent contest a 2-2 tie with Portland back on July 5. NYCFC comes off that aforementioned midweek matchup, one they controlled through much of the second half before Victor Vazquez put home a stoppage-time penalty for TFC to steal the point.

New York City FC

NYCFC has spent the season establishing its MLS elite bonafides, but they may come to rue Wednesday's dropped points, as the specter of Toronto looms over the East, given the Reds' uncanny ability to produce points at any level of roster depth. They'll have to show similar levels of resourcefulness, what with Ronald Matarrita, Rodney Wallace and Miguel Camargo all going down on international duty with their respective squads at the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

That said, it's been a year of strong performances for our pigeon-friendly outer-borough denizens, with Patrick Vieira turning in a Coach of the Year-caliber first half, and reigning MLS MVP David Villa playing like he's not ready to relinquish the crown. And let us not forget young Jack Harrison, justifying that SuperDraft trade up to No. 1 more and more every day.

Suspended: NONE
Int’l Duty: Miguel Camargo (Panama), Rodney Wallace (Costa Rica)
Injury Report: OUT: F - Khiry Shelton (hamstring injury, out 4-6 weeks), D - Ronald Matarrita (foot surgery), M - Miguel Camargo (non-displaced hip fracture), D/M - James Sands (right ASIS apophysitis injury), M - Rodney Wallace (right adductor strain)
Projected Starting XI (4-3-3) GK: Sean Johnson – R.J. Allen, Maxime Chanot, Alexander Callens, Ben Sweat – Maxi Moralez, Alexander Ring, Yangel Herrera – Jack Harrison, David Villa, Tommy McNamara

Notes: NYCFC are unbeaten in six consecutive home games (4-0-2) and have outscored their opponents 14-8 along that run. New York City have scored in 20 consecutive regular-season home games, a franchise record.

Chicago Fire

The Fire make their return to MLS action with Dax McCarty still out on Gold Cup duty, though Juninho has shown solid facility in limited combination with Bastian Schweinsteiger. Overall, their players have spent the season taking turns ceding the spotlight, so it'd be no surprise for someone random to take a bow in the Bronx. Just count on Nemanja Nikolic to score a goal, since he has in all but three matches thus far.

When the season goes as well as it has in the Windy City – let alone coming off back-to-back bottom-dwelling campaigns – there exist plenty of plaudits to share, from Veljko Paunovic's masterful coaching pivot to quickly integrating top talent, the so-bountiful hit-on-every-acquisition offseason of GM Nelson Rodriguez and trying to figure out which guy should get hardware. Going to be a fun ride for the second half.

Suspended: NONE
Int’l Duty: Dax McCarty (United States)
Injury Report: OUT: M - John Goossens (right ankle surgery), GK - Jorge Bava (left elbow tendinitis); QUESTIONABLE: F - David Arshakyan (right ankle injury), D - Jonathan Campbell (right ankle injury); ALSO: M - Bastian Schweinsteiger (right hip injury), D - Matt Polster (leg injury)
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1) GK: Matt Lampson - Matt Polster, Johan Kappelhof, Joao Meira, Brandon Vincent - Juninho, Bastian Schweinsteiger - Luis Solignac, Michael de Leeuw, David Accam - Nemanja Nikolic

Notes: Chicago is unbeaten in their last four road matches (2-0-2), holding opponents to an average of 0.8 goals per game in that time. The Fire started the season 0-3-2 away from Toyota Park, allowing 2.4 goals per game.

All-Time Series
New York City 2 wins (10 goals)…Chicago 1 win (7 goals)…Ties 2
At New York City: New York City 1 win (6 goals)…Chicago 0 win (3 goals)…Ties 2

Referee: Allen Chapman
Assistant Referees: Kyle Atkins, Gianni Facchini
Fourth Official: Alex Chilwicz