MLS

​Chicago Fire FC v Columbus Crew: Klopas says poor run is 'extremely difficult' to take

By Sports Desk May 18, 2024

Frank Klopas admits he is finding things "extremely difficult" amid Chicago Fire FC's poor form as they prepare to welcome Columbus Crew to Soldier Field.

The Fire have lost three MLS games in a row, most recently going down 1-0 to Charlotte FC in midweek, and are now winless in six.

Without a win since early April, Chicago have slipped down to 14th in the Eastern Conference ahead of Saturday's visit of Columbus.

Klopas, who was appointed head coach in December after previous spells as caretaker and assistant, knows it is on him to turn things around.

"We need confidence - we're very low on that," he said. "It's not easy because I'm asked the same questions, and I'm trying to find solutions and answers. I know I keep saying it, but we have to keep going and find a way out of this. 

"I love this club and felt I could help it, so it's a difficult one for me because I wouldn't do this for any other team. It's extremely difficult in this moment because I haven't found solutions. We'll keep trying."

Columbus are seventh in the East, eight points better off than their opponents, having played a game less, and enter this contest on the back of a 3-1 win at CF Montreal.

That snapped a seven-game winless run, culminating in a 2-1 home reverse to FC Cincinnati – a loss that may prove to be a turning point for the reigning league champions.

"After the game against Cincinnati, we discussed about a specific topic," head coach Wilfried Nancy said after the win against Montreal. "For me, that was a weird game, and I explained the situation.

"That's why we were able to score goals [against Montreal]. That's why we were able to control the game. That's why we had a really good performance."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Chicago Fire - Hugo Cuypers

The Fire have failed to score in four successive home matches for the first time in their history. That leaves them just one blank short of equalling the all-time MLS record of five, set by Toronto FC in 2007 and matched by FC Cincinnati in 2020.

The onus is on the forward players to find a way past Columbus, with Hugo Cuypers registering three shots against Charlotte, each of which were on target but none finding the net. The Fire quite simply need Cuypers to find his range this weekend.

Columbus Crew - Steven Moreira

Defender Moreira proved to be Columbus' unlikely hero in the win over Montreal as he set up two goals - the first multi-assist game of a Crew career that spans 100 games in all competitions.

Moreira, who also netted in the recent 2-2 draw with Portland Timbers, is the only player to register multiple assists in a single game for Columbus in MLS this season.

MATCH PREDICTION - COLUMBUS CREW WIN

Columbus have won five of their past six meetings with Chicago, including the past three in a row. Never before have they won four straight regular-season meetings with the Fire.

Chicago's three-game losing run is their worst of the season and their worst since a five-match losing streak that ended in September last year.

The Fire's 10 points after 13 matches are the fewest they have ever registered at this stage, meanwhile, and it does not get any easier for them against a Columbus side that have won back-to-back games 3-1 on their travels.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Chicago Fire - 32.6%
Draw - 29%
Columbus Crew - 38.4%

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