CHICAGO – When they made the move back to Soldier Field ahead of the 2020 Major League Soccer season, these are the match days that Chicago Fire FC was hoping to see.
They’d have a new look club that would host one of the traditional powers in the league with a sizable crowd ready to enter the stadium to watch. Sure, the weather could be a little warmer, but the skies will be clear on Saturday night for one of the biggest matches for the club in a long while.
The Fire take to the pitch at 7 PM to face the LA Galaxy and star Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez in front of a crowd that will at least be over 25,000 people at Soldier Field. You can watch the match on WGN-TV, Channel 9.
For a club that’s 2-1-3 on the season and in hopes of cracking into the playoffs for the first time since 2017, it’s a moment for a potential statement victory.
It’s the first time the clubs have played since MLS Opening Weekend in 2019, when LA won 2-1 on March 2nd of that season at Dignity Health Sports Park. Their last match-up in Chicago was on March 14, 2018, which ended in a 1-0 win for the Galaxy.
Manager Ezra Hendrickson understands the attention around the match itself and what it would mean to Fire fans should they be able to pull off a victory.
“I think it would be great for the fans. For us, it pushes us up into the standings, get into the top tier of the group, so to speak,” said Hendrickson. “But it’s going to be a lot of fans out there. They are going to have some fans. It stars out day, Shaq (Xherdan Shaqiri) against Chicharito.
“The fans are coming out to see a very good game, and what better way to convince fans to come back than to come out here with a very good –with a victory against a very good team.”
Hernandez will certainly be there as he arrives with the Galaxy (4-2-0) as the tri-leader in goals in MLS with five on the season. Whether Shaqiri will play remains a game-time decision as he along with Fabian Herbers remain questionable for the match as of Saturday.
Having the striker on the field would certainly boost the hopes for the Fire, who are still trying to establish their offense in what’s been a defensive-dominated start for the club. They’ve yielded an MLS-low two goals this season but have only scored five, which has kept them from adding a few more points in the early going.
Getting the victory would take the club’s best effort of the season, and Shaqiri understands that along with the impact this match could have on the Fire.
“LA Galaxy, as everybody knows, they have very good players. They have a lot of Latin who players with Chicharito, with Douglas Costa. And with Douglas Costa, a new player, but Chicharito is already two years there,” said Shaqiri. “They have also pressure to win things, and they want to win trophies.
“I know the players that come with a lot of experience to this club and want to win trophies. So it’s a big competitive team for us too, and we play at home, so we try to win games, and this is the most important thing for me.”
Getting this one would be especially significant and on an evening of importance which the Fire have been hoping for over the course of a few years.