COLUMBUS, Ohio. – Typically they would be playing at this time of year, but there has been nothing normal about this 2020 Major League Soccer season.
Chicago Fire FC had just two games in March before the COVID-19 pandemic paused their season. They ventured to the MLS is Back Tournament in Orlando, where an opening game upset was followed by two-straight losses.
Now the club gets the chance to start another chapter of this season, beginning with Thursday night right here on WGN-TV.
Tonight the club visits Columbus Crew SC to start a six-game second phase of the MLS season, which will feature three games at Soldier Field and three on the road. The 6:30 PM kickoff will be the first for the Fire since their loss to Vancouver in what would be their final game in Orlando on July 23rd.
” We are excited that we can play again. I told you guys a few weeks ago that, we think about the 20th, 22nd, we have three and a half, four weeks to train without any friendly games, but we are happy that it starts again,” said head coach Raphael Wicky of this six-game stretch. “This is a weird year for everyone. You’re not really getting into your rhythm. We spoke about that, but we are just excited that we know what goes on and we know our schedule for at least six games.”
This unusual year has made it difficult for Wicky to get an idea of where this group stands after the team underwent a major change in personnel following the 2019 season. The club will be without goaltender Kenneth Kronholm and midfielder Luka Stojanović after each had surgery for ACL injuries.
Wicky will be using these six games to continue to find out more about the club, which he’s only seen on the pitch five time in 2020.
“We are going there to win. We are going into every game to win and make points but I want to keep seeing progress from the team,” said Wicky of the game in Columbus. “Like I said before, as well, for us, we are still figuring out these players. We are trying to still find the best way to play, where these new players who we have seen some of them two, three times in Orlando, some of them once, we had no friendlies to test other things.”
But at least their are six more games, and in 2020, that’s something to be pleased about.