With both teams struggling to get any kind of form going this season, Saturday afternoon’s showdown on NBC Sports Network (1:30pm ET) is sure to be a pulsating clash.
The Philadelphia Union have won just one of their last six games and have struggled to score goals all season. While the Chicago Fire have won just twice this campaign. Something has to give.
In recent weeks the Fire have been bullish in improving their form on the field. Two wins from their last four games is an improvement. But in all honesty, it couldn’t have got much worse. A 3-1 home win over New York was their first of the season and they then defeated Columbus 1-0 in their next match at Toyota Park. But either side of those home wins they suffered defeats on the road to Houston and Montreal.
Last year these two sides met three times, twice at Toyota Park. Chicago won two out of three, but the Union’s lone win came courtesy of a 3-1 victory in Illinois on October 3. The Fire will soon be sick of the sight of Philadelphia, as they face the Union at PPL Park (May 18) in their next game after Saturday’s match up. The Union have a home tie with LA Galaxy sandwiched between their two bouts with the Fire. These games will be lively, that’s for sure.
The Fire have improved going forward after only scoring once during their first four games of the season, with Sherjill MacDonald struggling to get his season going after being publicly criticized by Frank Klopas. However Maicon Santos exploded into life during the 3-1 win over New York and Chicago will be hoping the Brazilian can repeat that form this weekend.
Philadelphia could ring the changes for the key clash, as fans favorite Sebastien Le Toux is pushing for a start and so is new DP Kleberson and attacker Antoine Hoppenot. John Hackworth certainly has a plethora of options off the bench as he looks to bring solidity to the Union’s results. The young back line has performed well this season with Amobi Okugo a real gem at center back and Raymon Gaddis continuing to grow into the full back role. However they will be up against a wily veteran in Fire forward Chris Rolfe. Young lads, you’ve been warned.
This game could easily be a high-scoring draw. 2-2 or 3-3 would be my prediction. Both sides are due offensive breakouts and will see this as an opportunity to chalk up another three points on the way to challenging for the playoffs. Expect plenty of tackles, passion and goals. Famous last words.
Don’t stab at the ball!
It’s a cry that echoes from youth matches to the upper reaches of the game, but Riyad Mahrez has a tendency to force defenders into forgetting fundamentals.
[ MORE: Sunderland hires Moyes ]
The Leicester man, linked to Arsenal, danced through the Celtic defense in Saturday’s International Champions Cup action to whip a shot home and give the Foxes a 1-0 lead in Glasgow (The Bhoys have since tied it up).
We’ve seen this so many times from the Algerian, who hopefully sticks around Leicester for the club’s UEFA Champions League run and Premier League title defense.
DeAndre Yedlin left the United States for England in January 2015, the latest step in a career trajectory simply described as “Up”.
Yedlin, now 23, acclimated to life in the Premier League before making a late season appearance with Tottenham to close the 2014-15 season.
[ MORE: Sunderland hires Moyes ]
The next year saw him force into Sam Allardyce‘s Sunderland lineup, transforming his defensive acumen in a way that few USMTN fans could deny during this summer’s Copa America Centenario (That pesky red card aside).
But not only is Tottenham in the UEFA Champions League, but Yedlin’s manager at Sunderland is gone. What does this mean for Yedlin? Let’s consider three primary options:
Sunderland still buys him — New manager David Moyes loves him a mobile fullback with offensive capabilities. Not that Yedlin is Leighton Baines, but a starting right back slot in the Premier League could still be in the cards.
Tottenham keeps him around — Mauricio Pochettino likes to rotate his defenders and will have a heavy schedule on his plate. Kieran Trippier was unable to unseat Kyle Walker last season, so the No. 2 chair could be open for Yedlin (although Trippier showed he’s on the level while at Burnley, leading the league in crosses during 2014-15).
Tottenham loans him out — Speedy right backs will be in demand at several spots, and Sunderland is just one destination where fans are clamoring for reinforcements. Lack of purchases is one big reason Steve Bruce just left Hull City, and clubs like that will be aiming for relatively proven players on loan.
Fabian Delph means no offense to Martin O’Neill, Paul Lambert, and Manuel Pellegrini, but he’s never seen anything like the management of Man City boss Pep Guardiola.
“The first three weeks have been amazing. I’ve learned more than I have throughout my whole career,” he said to the BBC. “It is a big statement but it is the truth.”
[ MORE: Wenger open to big spending ]
He’s not alone in his praise for Guardiola, as defender Gael Clichy is thrilled at what’s transpiring in front of him at training.
“That’s something new as before we were quite open and if you look at our games from last year we were conceding a lot of goals on the counter-attack because we were an offensive team and open. I guess he’s trying to make us as offensive as previous years but just as solid at the back.”
Later in the article, Clichy talked about his friendship with Delph (which really ties our post together). City’s site even used the term “bromance”. So they’ve got that going for them, which is nice.
While Manchester United and Liverpool have been the clubs grabbing headlines with transfers this summer, Arsene Wenger would like to remind you that:
A) There’s plenty of time left in the window.
B) Arsenal has a lot of money.
C) They did sign Granit Xhaka for big dollars.
[ RUMOR ROUNDUP: Mahrez to Arsenal ]
The Premier League’s longest-tenured manager opened up about the Gunners’ plans to keep looking for the right targets, and said the club is still “very active” and working with a month-and-a-half to go in the window.
“We are very active and if we find the right candidates, we will spend the big money. We have already spent big and, until now, nobody has made a bigger transfer than we have in the country.
He was also asked about Mauro Icardi, Arda Turan, and Alexandre Lacazette:
“I wouldn’t like to come out on names because if you don’t get them afterwards, people ask why. We are active, very active every day and it’s not over. Today we are on July 22 and the transfer market finishes on August 31. You know that a lot happens in the last week, so it’s a long time to go, but we are active and we are working.”
Arsenal could use a star striker, or at least depth behind Olivier Giroud, and have added young English back Rob Holding to go with scooping up Xhaka.
Do you think Wenger will dig into the bank again this summer for a big signing? If so, who?