The Chicago Fire kicked off a three-game homestand with a win over second-place Nashville SC.
Here are three observations from the win.
Fire start homestand on the right foot
Stay in the game with the latest updates on your beloved Chicago sports teams! Sign up here for our All Access Daily newsletter.
Frank Klopas knew his team was headed into a potential season-defining three-game homestand. Given their position in the Eastern Conference, they could ill-afford to drop too many more points, especially at home.
“At home you feel like you need to come out with energy and push the game,” Klopas said in his press conference before the game. “But you got to find the right balance, for me, because this is a team that is dangerous in transition so I think the balance always has to be right. But definitely at home, the energy, the intensity that we come out is a key.”
The Fire picked up just their third win at home but it was an important one.
Coming off two wins out of three on the road, the Fire needed to take advantage of playing at Soldier Field and managed to do that.
In his pre-match press conference, Klopas also said they needed to take things one game at a time and not look ahead to their next opponent. With a win under their belt, they can look ahead to next Wednesday when they host Montréal, the team currently sitting in ninth place with the final MLS playoff spot.
Fabian Herbers scoring key goals
Whether he’s starting or coming off the bench, one thing you can’t say about Herbers is that he doesn’t give it his all. Recently, however, he’d been making the most out of starting.
His goal against Nashville marked the third time he’s scored in the last four games. He scored on the road against the Portland Timbers and Sporting Kansas City, both Fire wins.
“I won the ball and played it out,” Herbers said after the game. “Maren made a great run down the right. I played it to him and then I made my way into the box. But I was happy to get the ball back there and one touch finish into the goal. So I was happy to get the game winner.”
Making more runs into the box was something Klopas also stressed leading up to the game.
He now has four goals on the season, just one behind team leader Kei Kamara.
Solid effort from Chris Brady and the backline
The Fire were coming off a loss against Orlando City where they gave up three goals. Against Nashville, they were facing a team who had MLS’ top goalscorer in Hany Mukhtar. While they were helped by the fact he didn’t start the match, Nashville had other players on the pitch who could pick up the slack.
However, the Fire defense and goalkeeper Chris Brady were able to keep the clean sheet, the fourth of the season for Brady.
Rafael Czichos had a couple of big blocks in the first half against Teal Bunbury and Brady was named Man of the Match as he came up with a couple of big saves both when the game was scoreless and when the Fire had the lead.
Nashville had 13 total shots but only four on target, with the most dangerous coming in the second half.
The Fire have been prone to lapses in concentration defensively, particularly when they have the lead. But in their last four games, with the loss to Orlando City being the exception, the defense and goalkeeping has been up to the task.
With the Fire’s last three wins all by one goal, they’re going to need to keep it up if they want to make a run at the postseason.