Nikolic MTL

#MTLvCHI Numbers and Words: Fire's Canadian double-header begins in Montreal


Matchup Chicago Fire (12-6-5, 41 pts.) at Montreal Impact (8-8-6, 30 pts.)
Date Wednesday, Aug. 16 • 6:30 p.m. CT
Location Montreal, Quebec • Stade Saputo
TV CSN Chicago (Pregame Show: 6 p.m.)
Spanish Radio Univision América 1200 (WRTO)
Injuries, Suspensions, Lineup Projection MLS Match Preview

The Fire make their first of two late-summer trips to Montreal on Wednesday night (6:30 p.m. CT, CSN Chicago), when they visit the Impact in a matchup with Eastern Conference playoff implications. The Fire will be looking to make amends for a road defeat in Columbus on Saturday night, while the Impact will want to capitalize on a 3-0 road win over Philadelphia on the weekend to continue pushing their way into the postseason conversation. Ahead of Wednesday night's midweek meeting, here are a few key facts, faces and figures to keep in mind:

Key number: 7

Montreal enters Wednesday night's clash unbeaten in seven of their last eight matches at Stade Saputo, six of which are wins. Getting full points at home is everything in Major League Soccer, and the Impact's ability to do so are a big factor in why they'll feel optimistic about their playoff possibilities despite currently sitting below the red line in the East. For the Fire -- who are 10-0-1 at home this season -- three points on the road would be a massive haul as they prepare to enter a stretch of four out of five matches at home following their midweek trip to Canada.

Matchup to watch: Dax McCarty vs. Blerim Dzemaili

Montreal made Swiss midfielder Blerim Dzemaili their latest Designated Player signing back in early May, and the 31-year-old has wasted little time making his presence felt in the heart of the Impact lineup since. In 12 matches played so far this season, Dzemaili has racked up five assists and six goals, two of which came in the club's 3-0 romp over Philadelphia last weekend. With newest signing Samuel Piette now patrolling the defensive midfield behind him, Dzemaili could see his license to patrol the final third increase as the season progresses. It'll be up to Fire roadblock Dax McCarty (among others) to stifle the Swiss playmaker and suffocate his contributions to the Montreal attack come Wednesday night.

One Big Question: Can the Fire repeat their August success in Montreal?

The last time the Fire visited Stade Saputo just under a year ago, they turned in one of the most memorable performances of the 2016 season. In what became a 3-0 victory on Aug. 20 of last season, goals from Luis Solignac, David Accam and Matt Polster propelled the club to snap a seasons-long road winless streak. Fast-forward to present day, and the stakes are even higher for a Fire side looking to remain alive in the Supporters' Shield race and position themselves for favorable playoff seeding. They'll look to recapture some of that magic come Wednesday night.

Sizing Up The Series

The Fire are 4-5-5 all-time in regular season meetings against the Montreal Impact, including a 1-4-2 record in matches played on the road. These two teams have met once already this season, a memorable 2-2 draw at Toyota Park on April 1 that saw Bastian Schweinsteiger score in his MLS debut.

Quote of the Week:

That's Chicago Fire GM Nelson Rodríguez not pulling any punches on the challenge that lies ahead for his club. The Fire are winless in their last four road outings, including losses in their last three. Wednesday night's matchup represents a big opportunity for the Fire to pick up a vital three points away from home and continue pushing Toronto FC at the top of the East ahead of their visit to Toyota Park on Saturday.

Valspar Matchday Primer: