Preview: Fire close out homestand against New England Saturday on CSN+

Preview: Fire close out homestand against New England Saturday on CSN+

With a tough three-game road trip staring ahead at them, the Chicago Fire know Saturday's home game against New England is a crucial early season game.

Not only is it important because it is against an Eastern Conference opponent and the playoff race is shaping up to be incredibly tight, but the Fire need to get points now while they are at home before embarking on a road trip at perenially tough teams in Toronto, the New York Red Bulls and LA.

"You always want to win your home games, especially we had three in a row and we're almost through those and obviously then a big road trip coming up so you always want to win your home games," midfielder Dax McCarty said.

Saturday's game against New England will be live on CSN+ with coverage beginning with Fire Pregame Live at 3:30 p.m.

The match will be the third straight home game against an Eastern Conference opponent for the Fire. The first two were a 2-2 draw against Montreal and a 1-0 win against Columbus.

"I was very disappointed with how we lost two points in the Montreal game," McCarty said. "I thought our performance warranted three points, but we didn't finish and we didn't close the game out well and we didn't defend well. I thought (against Columbus) we learned from our mistakes."

Even after losing to the Fire, Columbus still leads the conference with a 3-2-1 record (10 points). The Fire (2-1-2, 8 points) are two points behind, tied with Atlanta for third. New England (2-2-1, 7 points) is one of five teams with seven points.

It's early, but the Fire weren't really in the playoff race or conversation at all in 2016. Coach Veljko Paunovic talked up the team's improvement, bolstered by additions like McCarty and Bastian Schweinsteiger.

"We are not afraid of saying that we are getting better," Paunovic said. "We also know that we still have to work a lot and become the team that everyone in Chicago wants to root for and everyone is supporting and everyone wants to watch. That's what we are working on. Hopefully we can succeed this year. We are on that path. I am 100 percent sure, but we still have to work."

The Fire enter Saturday's game with Luis Solignac (left knee) and David Accam (right hip) listed as questionable. Matt Polster has been out since the preseason, but worked his way back to full training this week and could make his season debut.

Polster will join an already crowded central midfield. Juninho returns from red card suspension and Schweinsteiger and McCarty each have a man of the match to their names in the last two games.

"I think for the most part I've started the season off pretty well, pretty solid," McCarty said. "I'm happy with how I started the season, but I think there's always room to grow.

"I still have another level I think I can get to and I think this team can get to. It's important to recover and get ready for New England."

Meanwhile, New England has a clean injury report. The Revolution have plenty of talented attacking players in Lee Nguyen (3 goals, 1 assist), Kei Kamara (2 goals), Juan Agudelo (3 goals) and Diego Fagundez (2 assists). That will test the Fire's defense. It also increases the importance of the midfield keeping pressure off the defense, like McCarty alluded to.

Chicago Fire vs. New England Revolution

Where: Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Ill.


When: Coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. Saturday with Fire Pregame Live

Records: Fire (2-1-2, 8 points), New England (2-2-1, 7 points)

Chicago Fire's 'MLS is Back' opening match postponed due to COVID-19

Chicago Fire's 'MLS is Back' opening match postponed due to COVID-19

MLS announced on Tuesday that the Chicago Fire’s first game back after the season was suspended due to COVID-19 has been postponed.

The Fire were supposed to play Nashville SC on Wednesday in their opening Group A match of the MLS is Back tournament. But since arriving in Orlando for the tournament, five Nashville players tested positive for COVID-19 and four others received inclusive results, requiring more testing. As a result, MLS is now evaluating Nashville’s participation in the tournament.

The Fire will now return to play on July 14 against Inter Miami CF.

The Fire also announced that the Drive-In Matchday event that was scheduled for Wednesday’s game has been rescheduled for their July 19 game against New York City FC. Fans who registered for that event will have the opportunity to sign-up again for the new date.

This is the second Chicago pro sports match altered as leagues try to return to play. The Chicago Red Stars also had a game cancelled in late June due to Orlando Pride players testing positive for COVID-19.

As MLB, the NHL and the NBA gear up to return it remains to be seen how they will react in a similar situation.

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MLS announces return to play plan for tournament at Disney World

USA Today

MLS announces return to play plan for tournament at Disney World

MLS soccer is coming back this summer.

The league announced a plan to have all 26 MLS clubs resume play on July 8 with a league-wide “MLS is Back Tournament.”

The games will be played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World, without fans in the stands.

Here’s how it will work:

Clubs can arrive in Orlando to begin training on June 24. Then a group stage will begin July 8 followed by a knockout stage, starting July 25.

There will be six groups, three for each the Western and Eastern Conferences. The group stage draw will occur on June 11 at 2:30 p.m. CT.

Each team will play three group stage matches, and the results from those games will count in the 2020 MLS regular season standings.

Then the top two teams from each group, plus the four best third-place finishers will advance to the knockout stage. That stage starts with a round-of-16, followed by quarterfinals, semifinals and then the championship game. The championship game will be played on August 11.

In case of a tie at the end of regulation in the knockout stage, games will proceed directly to a penalty kick shootout.

The winner of the tournament will earn a berth in the 2021 Concacaf Champions League.

At the conclusion of the tournament, MLS will resume its regular season followed by the MLS Cup Playoffs and MLS Cup.

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