Following an empty result away from Soldier Field against D.C., the Fire will play their final match of a six-game, 45-day road gauntlet in Montréal on Sunday afternoon.
Here’s a look at what to expect as the Fire head north of the border…
LAST TIME OUT
The Fire and Club de Foot Montréal last met on May 29th when Mason Toye’s 87th minute header stole three points for the visitors at Soldier Field. It was a true smash-and-grab type of performance after the Fire dominated for close to the entirety of the 90 minutes.
Fire defender Wyatt Omsberg thought he had the game-tying goal in stoppage time, but after a VAR review, Chinonso Offor was seen in an offside position as the ball was played toward him and the goal was waved off.
Both of these teams looked very different that day than they do now, almost four months later.
The Fire were still using a four-back system and Montréal were only beginning the Wilfried Nancy era.
Nancy’s side have been steadily sitting either in or right around a playoff position. They are currently in sixth place following their 4-2 win against Orlando City SC on Wednesday night, and are just a point off of fourth place NYCFC. No one is catching New England - who are on 55 points and running away with the Supporter’s Shield - but third place is a very realistic goal for Montréal. They are only four points off of Orlando in that spot, who they just beat at Exploria Stadium.
Granted, Nani was sent off late in the first half of that match and Andres Perea was issued the same fate in the 83rd minute, but Montréal put four goals past an Orlando group that is typically very difficult to break down.
Nancy’s side is very opportunistic, can get forward quickly, and possesses a lot of quality in the attacking third. Romell Quioto is very talented and can stretch the defense in addition to being clean in front of goal. He has four goals and six assists this season. Former Fire midfielder Djordje Mihailović has dished out ten assists thus far. The aforementioned Mason Toye has also been enjoying his time in Montréal when healthy.
Victor Wanyama and Samuel Piette are a good balance of tempo-setter and disrupter while the back three for Montréal has held up through the likes of Kamal Miller, Rudy Camacho, Joel Waterman and Kiki Struna.
The Fire are running out of time. There are 10 games remaining, and they theoretically need seven or eight wins to be in the neighborhood of a playoff spot. Montréal is another team they are chasing in the Eastern Conference table.
Chicago seemed surprised by the press and energy of D.C. on Wednesday night. For a second-straight road game, Chicago came out and were not prepared for a fight in someone else’s house. It simply can’t happen if they want to squeeze anything out of the remaining games.
I'm looking to see a big response from Wicky’s boys on Sunday.
I’ll have the call with Tony Meola at 12 p.m. CT on WGN and CFFC Live.