MESHIN’ IM­POS­SI­BLE?

FIRE COACH WICKY IS TRY­ING TO GET HIS PLAY­ERS TO JELL, BUT IN THIS UN­CON­VEN­TIONAL SEA­SON, IT WON’T BE EASY

Chicago Sun-Times - - FIRE BEAT - BY BRIAN SANDALOW | @bri­ansan­dalow

Be­cause of the stop-start na­ture of the 2020 sea­son, the Fire are still try­ing to mesh.

So to de­velop some more con­ti­nu­ity, coach Raphael Wicky didn’t ro­tate his team for the 0-0 draw at FC Cincin­nati on Wednes­day af­ter the 3-1 loss last Sat­ur­day at New York City FC. But that cre­ated other is­sues.

“We tried to build the team,” Wicky said. “We tried to find some con­sis­tency. So we started with the same team be­sides [goal­keeper] Bobby [Shut­tle­worth] that played in New York. But, yeah, I felt some guys had a lit­tle bit of heavy legs, which is nor­mal af­ter all these games, and the subs came in very, very well.”

That’s part of the chal­lenge for Wicky and the Fire, who host the Rev­o­lu­tion on Sun­day night. They’d like to build fa­mil­iar­ity and get ev­ery­body used to each other dur­ing a much-needed long run of games, but the games have come with lit­tle time off.

Mid­fielder Fabian Her­bers said play­ing games with­out in­ter­rup­tion helps tremen­dously. Play­ers get to see how their team­mates move on the field and whether they like the ball in cer­tain cir­cum­stances.

“It’s im­por­tant to know all these ten­den­cies,” Her­bers said Tues­day. “Yes, we have been train­ing a lot to­gether by now, but in a game, in a real com­pet­i­tive game, it’s al­ways a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent. So it’s good. It cer­tainly helps us — all the games, get­ting to know each other, get­ting to know each other’s ten­den­cies and us­ing that to our ad­van­tage to score goals, to cre­ate chances and to go for­ward.”

At the same time, the Fire and other teams are work­ing through a con­densed sched­ule that has them play­ing mul­ti­ple times in a week. On Tues­day, mid­fielder Al­varo Me­dran said the Fire ended up a lit­tle tired against Colum­bus when they restarted the sea­son but were do­ing OK.

“Now we are adapt­ing to the rhythm,” Me­dran said. “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.”

Luck­ily for the Fire, they will have al­most a full week off af­ter the game against the Rev­o­lu­tion be­fore host­ing Colum­bus next Sat­ur­day. Bar­ring any com­pli­ca­tions, that game will be their sixth in less than a month, but one with reg­u­lar rest.

That will give the Fire more time to re­cover but also jell.

“We’re go­ing to slowly get to our op­ti­mal level, and lit­tle by lit­tle we’re go­ing to keep get­ting bet­ter in the field,” Me­dran said. “Yeah, we’ve seen that there are some mis­takes that we’ve made, but they are easy to fix. So we’re go­ing to fix them and keep go­ing and just keep pro­gress­ing and de­vel­op­ing as the sea­son goes on.” ✶

RAFA ALVAREZ/CHICAGO FIRE FC

Coach Raphael Wicky is try­ing to build con­ti­nu­ity.

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