Wednesday night brings us some mid-week MLS action as the Chicago Fire play host to the Columbus Crew. At home, the Fire have a moneyline of -142 compared to the underdog Crew at +346. Meanwhile, a draw is listed at +290.
Columbus enters Wednesday’s game in the midst of a six-game losing streak across all competitions. They suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 defeat over the weekend against Orlando City, allowing an 84th-minute goal after nearly securing a point. The Crew is now tied with FC Cincinnati for the fewest points in the league, putting them nine points out of a playoff spot.
Chicago is also chasing a playoff spot, as the Fire currently sit on 22 points, four behind Toronto FC for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Fire was also the victim of a late goal over the weekend, conceding against Cincinnati in the 83rd minute of a 2-1 loss. They’ve now lost three of their last four games despite a 5-1 win over Atlanta mixed in.
Lookin' to make things happen tonight!
— The Crew (@ColumbusCrew) July 17, 2019
Save for their five-goal outburst against Atlanta, Chicago has had trouble finding the back of the net lately. Things went from bad to worse over the weekend against FC Cincinnati when they missed two penalties, scoring their only goal on the rebound of the second missed penalty. Outside of the two goals he had in that 5-1 win over Atlanta, leading scorer CJ Sapong hasn’t scored in his last six outings, forcing the Fire to look elsewhere for goals.
Midfielder Nicolas Gaitan holds the key to the Fire offense these days. He leads the team in assists and is responsible for being Chicago’s creative force. On Wednesday, the Fire will face a rather average Columbus backline, although that doesn’t guarantee that Gaitan and Sapong will be able to provide a spark for the Fire.
Can’t Find the Fit
Columbus is also having trouble finding the back of the net in recent games. They had 11 shots and 10 corner kicks against Orlando over the weekend but couldn’t turn them into a goal. Meanwhile, Orlando had just four shots and one corner kick but managed to find a late winner. It was another disheartening effort for a team that has just one goal in its last five games.
The Crew can rationalize by saying that they struggled to score while Gyasi Zardes was away on international duty. But Zardes’ return over the weekend didn’t result in any goals. They are still missing leading assist man Federico Higuain, while second-leading scorer Pedro Santos has just one tally in his last seven games. In other words, it could be Zardes or nothing when it comes to scoring goals for the time being.
These two rivals have played to a draw in each of their last three meetings, including a preseason friendly back in February. With both teams struggling to score, there’s little doubt this will be a close game. But Chicago is at home and in a little better shape than Columbus right now. Bet on the Fire to find a way to get a goal and win the game.