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Fire Thu Apr 16 2015

Chicago Fire Facing An Empty April

Chicago FireIn Newtonian physics one of the basest principles governing movement states that an object in motion will remain in that state unless acted upon by an equal and opposite force. With the Chicago Fire gaining momentum, finally fielding a fully-fit side and cruising to their second win in a row, things appeared to be auguring in their favor. That is to say, unless something should arise and put a stop to their forward progress, significantly altering the team's trajectory.

There was already going to be a minor speed bump along the way, with Chicago and the New England Revolution electing to reschedule their April 15th match, as it coincided with the ever-popular USA-Mexico international friendly happening on the same day. The bye-week for the Men In Red would lighten a congested week, allowing them more time to maintain match fitness before they were to head to Montreal on April 18th to face the Impact.

This was, of course, before the Impact went and improbably landed themselves in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League Finals, facing down Liga MX favorites Club America in a home-and-away series starting on April 22nd. It is worth noting that no MLS team has ever won the Champions League in its present-day incarnation, with Real Salt Lake being the only other team to reach the finals back in 2011. Given the weight of the event, the Fire and the Impact agreed to reschedule their impending match as well.

Which has now left a yawning chasm between now and April the 24th, when Chicago will play host to New York City FC as they make their inaugural voyage to Toyota Park. The Fire will have played only two matches in the month of April, effectively allowing the momentum that they have generated to stagnate. This is hardly the end of the world, as a team out of competition has more time to work on training as a unit, allowing its roster players to remain active and increasing their positional awareness. Though just as any muscle that is not exercised regularly will begin to atrophy, so too will the team's sense of competitiveness begin to flag. Absent the need to hunt, the wolf becomes the docile dog.

So are the Men In Red in a dangerous situation, as they slam into this void? Perhaps, perhaps not; the situation isn't nearly so binary as to only be cleaved into these two possibilities. The outcome of this off-lay will be determined by each player, their ability to stay fit, and whether they challenge one another to perform at their highest level. Things are looking pretty good as concerns this, as on April 14th Fire Confidential's Jeff Krause tweeted out the following report from training:


There appears to be a real sense of understanding, both of the situation that the team is facing and of the training needed to address it head on, which is a heartening sign. The Fire will face an NYCFC team in a state of flux. For while New York City are currently sitting in 7th place in the Eastern Conference with 5 points through 5 games, the Fire have only one point on them through as many games. City take on the Philadelphia Union on April 16th—squaring off for the second time this week—and they will be looking to give the Union their due comeuppance for the 2-1 loss NYC suffered at the weekend. That match could be the turning point for NYCFC's momentum, and Fire fans will likely be watching to see whether they will be facing a resurgent side looking to roll into Chicago and exert its dominance, or whether they will be a more desperate side come next Friday. Unlike the world of physics, however, these variables are incalculable until after the match has concluded, when all of the dust has settled.

 
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