Saturday’s on-field introduction of Bastian Schweinsteiger and 2-2 draw with Montreal had all the makings of an instant classic, but the final outcome left the Chicago Fire eager for the next chance to finish the job and secure the full three points. That chance comes Saturday (1 p.m.) at Toyota Park, as Columbus Crew SC arrives for another key Eastern Conference fixture.
Here are five reasons to be in attendance when #CHIvCLB kicks off this weekend:
Bastian Schweinsteiger’s Encore
Even the most optimistic forecasts for the World Cup champion’s first match in Chicago -- which came just three-and-a-half days after his trans-Atlantic travels -- might have fallen short of the individual performance Schweinsteiger delivered. The German midfielder provided the game’s first goal, prompted a Montreal red card with his well-weighted long-range passing, and came inches from a brace with his 85th-minute volley attempt. How will Schweinsteiger follow up that performance with a full week of training with his new teammates under his belt? Stay tuned for the answer.
Slowing Down Crew SC
It’s been less than five weeks since the Fire and Crew SC opened their respective 2017 campaigns against one another with a 1-1 draw at MAPFRE Stadium, but much has changed on both sides since that meeting. As Veljko Paunovic has seen the complexion of his side altered dramatically with the addition of Schweinsteiger, Gregg Berhalter has helped his club overcome a slow start to win three straight games and earn sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference. As the scene shifts to Chicago’s home turf, the Fire will look to replicate their second-half performance in Columbus in order to end Crew SC’s recent run of form and secure three crucial home points.
Fitting the Pieces
Unfortunately for Paunovic, the Fire midfield trio of Schweinsteiger, Dax McCarty and Juninho -- which helped Chicago keep 60 percent of possession in its first outing together -- must wait to build upon that performance. Juninho is set to miss Saturday’s contest after his second-half ejection against Montreal, leaving questions as to how the Fire will account for his absence (as well as the absence the injured John Goossens, Juninho’s replacement in Week 1). For his part, David Accam has managed to burn Columbus for five goals in six career games against Crew SC in all competitions -- most recently in the season-opener -- so expect him to remain a key threat for the Fire on Saturday.
Just like last week, less-than-ideal weather conditions during the workweek in Chicago are slated to give way to a weekend warm-up, with Saturday’s high temperature slated for 58 degrees with sunshine and light winds. Enter the stadium early and soak in the sun!
Remember that all fans are invited to enjoy $2 hot dogs courtesy of Red Hot Chicago at Saturday’s match, so bring your appetite when you head to Toyota Park this weekend!