CHICAGO – One of the biggest themes of this era of change for the franchise was the change in their home venue.
Moving to Soldier Field from SeatGeek Stadium was a way for Chicago Fire FC to get closer to their fanbase while also signaling a change for the franchise. The glory days of the franchise were spent on the lakefront, and the hope was to reinvigorate the club and fan base after some down years.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed quite a bit about this year of change for the Fire along with the rest of Major League Soccer. Instead of a grand debut in March with fans, the club had to wait till August to play in an empty stadium.
But they are playing games there, and so far, have established a home field advantage.
Sunday’s 2-1 win over DC United is the fourth win for the team in six games at Soldier Field in the 2020 season. It’s their third win-in-a-row at the venue, and in those contests, they’ve outscored their opponents 8-1.
On August 25th, they won their first game back at Soldier Field against FC Cincinnati 3-0, which was their first triump outside the Orlando bubble in 2020. They lost a game to the New England Revolution 2-1 on September 6th then settled with a draw against MLS-leading Columbus after taking an early 2-0 lead, yet they’ve saved their best for the last few weeks.
The club scored a season-high four goals in a shutout win over the Houston Dynamo on September 23rd, then followed it up with a 2-0 win over Atlanta United FC four days later.
Where the Fire have been good at home is their starts, as they’ve scored the majority of their goals in the first half. The club has 14 first half scores in their first six games at Soldier Field, including two in the win over DC United on Sunday.
Of those goals, nine have come in the first 23 minutes of the contests, which have helped to pace the four victories so far in Chicago
“It’s true that at home here, especially, we came out strong in almost every game, created chances, scored goals, it always helps, obviously,” said Chicago Fire FC head coach Raphael Wicky. “We struggled a little bit sometimes away from home to come out strong.
Ideally, we would like to come out strong every game, put pressure on the team, on the (opposing) team and create, and obviously, early goals always help you.”
It’s aided the team’s pursuit of a spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs, which has been expanded to ten teams in 2020. With six games to go, the Fire sit in ninth place with 19 points on the season, which is one better than Atlanta and Nashville with Inter Miami just three behind.
Wicky’s team returns to Soldier Field on Saturday to face Sporting KC at 2:30 after they play Minnesota United FC on the road Wednesday, with every point being critical to playing postseason soccer.
“Yes, for sure. We have to start taking points in our away games. Last few games at home we have been playing good and won,” said forward Boris Sekulic after scoring his first goal with the club on Sunday. “Still, we miss points from away games, now we have two days to recover and try to win against Minnesota.”
The Fire will have three of their six games remaining on the season at Soldier Field, where it’s beginning to feel like home very quickly.