SAME ISSUES PLAGUE FIRE
Inconsistency, defensive breakdowns have continued despite team’s many changes
So much has changed around the Fire, but after eight games the team still looks inconsistent, like so many of its recent predecessors.
In their game Wednesday at FC Cincinnati (2-4-2, eight points), the Fire will be looking to recover from a 3-1 loss Saturday at New York City FC. Though coach Raphael Wicky said the Fire didn’t come out of that game with a bad feeling because they had some good moments, it was still a loss.
‘‘What we want is to win games; that’s sports,’’ Wicky said. ‘‘You know how it is in football or sports in general: You get your confidence through results. Results give you confidence.’’
The Fire (2-5-1, seven points) got a good result Aug. 25 against FC Cincinnati at Soldier Field, winning 3-0 behind strong finishing and a steady 90-minute performance. But any hopes of consecutive victories were snuffed out by issues that have plagued the Fire this season: unconverted scoring chances and momentary breakdowns costing them goals.
‘‘I think against New York City we started off well, but in a couple of moments we relaxed,’’ midfielder Alvaro Medran said Tuesday through a translator. ‘‘They had their goal, and it was easier for them.
‘‘So I think it’s just moments where we lack a little bit of concentration, and that’s something we can fix. We can go back and work together and just be more focused and concentrated, and that’s how we can go ahead and resolve that.’’
Midfielder Fabian Herbers attributed the issues to something that has affected every team in 2020, but perhaps the Fire even more because of how much turnover their roster has gone through since last season.
‘‘We’re still a new team, and we’re still trying to find the rhythm,’’ Herbers said. ‘‘With COVID, we had two games and then another three [in the MLS Is Back tournament] in Orlando and then a big break again.’’
The Fire haven’t been helped by the long-term absences of midfielder Luka Stojanovic (left knee) and defender Johan Kappelhof (hip flexor). Wicky said Kappelhof hasn’t been part of full-team training since March and ‘‘will take awhile.’’
And versatile forward CJ Sapong, who had an excused absence to attend to a personal matter, is training individually but hasn’t played since the season restarted.
Still, the Fire need to pick up points more regularly.
‘‘I still say — and I will tell that to the players every day — to play with confidence, play with courage,’’ Wicky said. ‘‘There is no reason that you don’t have confidence. But it’s easier said than done. I was a player, and I know how it feels. That’s how it is.’’
NOTES: Goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth (groin) practiced Monday and Tuesday, but the Fire are waiting to see how he’s feeling before deciding whether he’ll play Wednesday. Connor Sparrow started in Shuttleworth’s place Saturday.
Wicky said midfielder Djordje Mihailovic wasn’t used as a substitute Saturday because of a stomach issue but has been in training and is available.
Midfielder Fabian Herbers says the long layoffs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have prevented the Fire from finding their rhythm.