Thursday, June 20, 2024

D.C. United v Chicago Fire: Klopas adopting ´relegation battle´ approach

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 23 May 2024

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Frank Klopas and the Chicago Fire may not have to worry about demotion from MLS, but he wants them to adopt a “relegation battle” mentality ahead of Saturday’s visit to D.C. United.

The Fire sit 14th in the Eastern Conference standings after losing four straight games, with three of those defeats coming at home including last week’s 3-1 reverse against the Columbus Crew.

Their current losing run is their fifth streak or four or more regular-season defeats since the start of 2021, though they have not lost five in a row in league play since 2018.

“The thing is trying to simplify things in practice, I think that’s the most important thing with teams going through a difficult moment,” Klopas said.

“The mental state of the team is obviously down. I think that’s expected when you don’t get results, when performances are not going your way.

“Even though there’s no relegation battle in this league, we have to approach every game right now like it’s a relegation fight until we can get out of this situation we’re in.”

D.C. are also looking to respond after back-to-back losses to the New York Red Bulls (1-4) and Inter Miami (0-1), with those results leaving them ninth in the East.

Troy Lesesne’s team have won praise for their counter-pressing approach this year, but he says they still have plenty of room for improvement when playing on the break.

“No matter who the opponent is, we want to be difficult to play against and to break down, but we’re also doing that so we can create,” Lesesne said.

“We’re top in the league for expected goals on the counterattack, but we have to finalise those situations.

“We’re going to keep working on that, keep gaining those moments and keep improving.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

D.C. United – Christian Benteke

Benteke has scored 11 of D.C.’s 20 goals this season, with no other team-mate netting more than once in MLS play.

D.C. United are one of two MLS teams (also the Houston Dynamo) to only have one player with multiple goals this season.

Chicago Fire – Carlos Teran

Teran scored the Fire’s only goal against the Crew last week and has now netted once for them in each of the last four seasons, making him the only player to score in each of the last four campaigns for Chicago.

The Colombian defender is hardly a goal machine, but Chicago will hope he can have an impact at both ends here.

MATCH PREDICTION – D.C. UNITED WIN

Chicago’s tally of 10 points through 14 matches in 2024 is their worst total at this stage of a season in club history.

Things may not get any better for them on Saturday against a team known for employing an energetic approach.

D.C. United recorded a 4-0 home win over Chicago in the teams’ last meeting last September, and they are looking to post back-to-back victories over the Fire for the first time since a four-game winning run against them between 2014 and 2016.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

D.C. United – 47.7%

Chicago Fire – 26.6%

Draw – 25.7%

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SoccerNews

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