CHICAGO – By no means has it been a perfect start, and it’s early to draw any major conclusions about where they might go in the fall, but there’s no denying how rare this start is for Chicago Fire FC.
Through five matches the club has yet to lose a Major League Soccer contest, which is the first time that’s happened since 2009. They did so with a stout defense that’s keeping opponents off the board with pockets of offense producing a pair of wins so far.
One of their three scoreless draws came against Saturday’s opponent Orlando City SC back on March 5th at Soldier Field. They’ll meet again at Exploria Stadium at Noon, but something could be quite different for the club on the field.
Both Xherdan Shaqiri (calf tightness) and captain Rafael Czichos (MLS health and safety protocol) are questionable for the match. The defender missed all of the scoreless draw against FC Dallas last Saturday while the striker went out early in the first half.
Losing both isn’t ideal, but not having Shaqiri on the field certainly would make things difficult for a Fire offense that’s looking to find consistency. While undefeated, the club has only scored a goal in two matches with five total scores on the season.
Manager Ezra Hendrickson says the club will have a plan to work without him, just as they did against Dallas.
“We will lose some creativity if he’s not on the pitch because like I said, he’s that big of a player and he’s that important of a player for us. Once Guti (Brian Gutiérrez) came into the game on Saturday, we didn’t change anything,” said Hendrickson. “So, don’t expect anything to change. We will still try to play the same way that we always try to play.
“We may not be as effective because of the quality of Shaq, but I thought when Guti came on, he did a very good job for us in that position. So, we won’t change anything tactically.”
Still, having those players would certainly help the club as they look to continue their best start in 12 years.
“Especially with having a player like Rafa, he’s a big part of our back line, and Shaqiri, who is honestly a very important player, both of them are players that are very important to the team,” said midfielder Federico Navarro. “We miss them without but the team is going to be able to move beyond that, and be able to surpass any sort of adversity that we might face. We really hope that they will be back and that we’ll be able to count on them for the upcoming game because as I said, Rafa and Shaq are very important and we need them.
“They are key players of our team but the team is going to get together and we are going to be able to surpass this.”