The Chicago Fire visit a familiar foe on Wednesday night, when they travel to take on FC Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium (6:30 p.m. CT | WGN, ESPN+, TUDN 1200 AM) just eight short days after beating them 3-0 in the Club’s return to Soldier Field.
The match will be the fourth game of the Fire’s phase one return to play schedule, marking the Club’s longest stretch in 2020 without an interruption in play.
Speaking to media members on Tuesday, finding consistency in front of goal, on defense, and in the win column is a continued emphasis for head coach Raphael Wicky and his group amid their first real run of matches together.
“From our standpoint from a coach and from a staff, we see certain things going better,” Wicky said. “We see some consistency. We are trying to build a team. We see some movements, like in New York, as well, against a very good team in this league, even they struggled this year, but we actually had big parts of the game where we dominated or where we had really good possession phases and we actually made them run and created chances and half-chances and moments. So that's very positive, and I think that's what we need and comes with games.”
Focus locked on Cincinnati 📸 pic.twitter.com/6NEildYyYy— Chicago Fire FC (@ChicagoFire) September 1, 2020
In their last outing, the Fire were defeated 3-1 at New York City on Saturday night coming out of their big win against Cincinnati the match prior. Homegrown defender Mauricio Pineda scored his second goal of the season, but the Fire will keep searching for their first road win of the season come kickoff at Nippert Stadium on Wednesday.
“We need a little bit more time to transition, but we are getting better and we are working harder as the year goes on and I think from here until the end of the year, we are going to show we are going to be very competitive,” midfielder Álvaro Medrán said via a translator. “We are a good group and it's a good group of guys and it's going to be very competitive as we build on from here to the end of the year.”
Medrán scored a Goal of the Week-nominated finish from distance against Cincinnati in their last meeting, and is developing an effective midfield partnership with Gastón Giménez. Amid all of 2020’s starts and stops, the 26-year-old is confident that the team’s ability at last to play a steady schedule of matches will draw out the same cohesion on the field that he and his teammates experience off the field.
“As far as the games and how we're feeling, we're doing okay,” Medrán said. “Against Columbus, we ended up a little bit tired, that one was probably the worst, but that was the first game in about a month. So now we are adapting to the rhythm. The coaching staff has done a good job of taking care of us and getting us ready. We are getting into a rhythm of games and when we go out to play, we feel like we have fresh legs. So they are doing a good job taking care of us and it's just a matter of getting back into the rhythm of games.”
“Personally, I love having back-to-back games,” midfielder Fabian Herbers added. “Then you can't really dwell too much on the loss that you had in the previous game against New York City FC, you know? When there's back-to-back games, you have maybe one day to dwell on it, be a little sad about it, but then we have another opportunity in three days, and that's just the spirit right now with the team to have a lot of games to get to know each other better on and off the field and try to get that chemistry going.”
As for Wednesday night’s opponent, the Fire aren’t sleeping on Cincinnati coming out of last week’s win. Familiarity is an advantage that goes both ways, and one 3-0 victory does not guarantee another.
“We are going to go in there and try to do the same thing we did last game, which is going and start strong and score goals,” Medrán said. “It's going to be very competitive because of the surface, but we are going to go in and try to do the same thing we did before, score goals and come back with the three points.”
For Wicky, the first-year head coach will continue to control what he control heading into Cincinnati, understanding that consistency will lead to results, and results will drive confidence.
“(When) we do a post-game analysis and show the guys, look, there were good moments,” he said. “We didn't come out of New York City's game with a really bad bad feeling because there were good moments, of course. So we try to give confidence with that and (we're) trying to get better in the things we have to get better (at).”
“But in the end of the day, in every level of sports, it's the wins that give you confidence.”