The highly anticipated match with LA Galaxy awaits Fire


CHICAGO — When they returned to Soldier Field ahead of the 2020 Major League Soccer season, those were the game days Chicago Fire FC was hoping for.

They would have a new look club that would house one of the league’s traditional powers with a sizeable crowd ready to enter the stadium to watch. Sure the weather could be a bit warmer but on Saturday night the skies are clear for one of the biggest games for the club in a long time.

The Fire take the field at 7 p.m. to take on LA Galaxy and star Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez in front of at least 25,000 at Soldier Field. For a club that is 2-1-3 this season and hoping to make the playoffs for the first time since 2017, this is a moment for a potential statement win.

It’s the first time since the 2019 MLS opening weekend, when LA won 2-1 at Dignity Health Sports Park on March 2 this season. Their last duel in Chicago took place on March 14, 2018, which ended in a 1-0 win for Galaxy.

Manager Ezra Hendrickson understands the attention surrounding the game itself and what it would mean for Fire fans should they be able to pull off a win.

“I think it would be great for the fans. For us it puts us in the overall standings, sort of in the top flight of the group,” said Hendrickson. “But there will be a lot of fans out there. You will have some fans. It starts day, Shaq (Xherdan Shaqiri) against Chicharito.

“The fans come out to see a very good game and what better way to convince the fans to come back than to come here with a very good result – a win against a very good team.”

Hernandez will certainly be there when he arrives with the Galaxy (4-2-0) as the tri-leader in goals in MLS with five goals a season. Whether Shaqiri will play remains a game decision as he remains in doubt for Saturday’s game along with Fabian Herbers.

Having the striker on the field would certainly boost hopes for the Fire, who are still trying to establish their offense in what has been a defensive-dominated start for the club. They’ve hit an MLS low with two goals this season but only scored five, which has kept them from adding a few more points in the early stages.

Victory would require the club’s best effort of the season and Shaqiri understands that game could be on fire along with the impact.

“LA Galaxy, as everyone knows, has very good players. They have a lot of Latin, who plays with Chicharito, with Douglas Costa. And a new player in Douglas Costa, but Chicharito has been there for two years,” said Shaqiri. “They also have pressure to win things and they want to win trophies.

“I know the players who come to this club with a lot of experience and want to win trophies. So it’s a big competitive side for us too and we’re playing at home so we’re trying to win games and that’s the most important thing for me.”

Getting this one would be particularly important and on an important night that the Fire has been hoping for over the years. The highly anticipated match with LA Galaxy awaits Fire

John Verrall

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