Chicago Fire midfielder Fabian Herbers says his side will be raring to go when they host D.C. United after the international break, having been able to reset after a 10-match winless run.
Chicago are bottom of the 14-team Eastern Conference and could match their longest ever winless MLS run by failing to beat D.C., but Herbers says the mood in the camp remains positive.
“My sentiment is that the team is positive, that they are excited to get back out there,” Herbers said.
“They are excited to play at Soldier Field again. I think it should be a good crowd there. (There’s) just excitement to play again, because when you don’t play for three weeks and you’re just training, it’s a bit tough.”
Head coach Ezra Hendrickson also thinks the rest will have done the Fire good, saying: “Sometimes when you’re so close, but so far away, it’s good to take a break. It was good for us to get that break. We gave the guys three or four days off to reset, refresh… reset mentally, as well as physically.”
D.C. are just one place above Chicago at the bottom of the standings after losing 4-1 at New York Red Bulls last time out, but defender Brad Smith is determined to lead a reaction after that underwhelming performance.
“It’s obviously not nice to go into a break with a result like the one we had,” he said. “It wasn’t a good enough performance from the guys and that’s probably the first performance in a while where we haven’t played well.
“We’ve had good moments before that, some have gone our way and some haven’t, and going into a break it’s hard because you have such a long period thinking about that game.
“But we were able to get a good training week to push towards a very important game in Chicago.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Chicago Fire – Kacper Przybylko
The Polish striker’s three goals put him level with Xherdan Shaqiri at the top of the Fire’s goalscoring charts this term, but with the Swiss winger a doubt for this contest, he may have to assume the goalscoring burden himself.
D.C. United – Taxi Fountas
Greece forward Fountas is the MLS’s leading player for goals per 90 minutes this season (0.96, minimum 450 minutes played) – swiftly followed by team-mate Ola Kamara (0.89), and will be key to the hopes of Chad Ashton’s men.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– The Fire beat D.C. United 2-0 on the road on March 12, ending a three-match winless run against D.C. (D1 L2). That victory was just Chicago’s fourth against D.C. in their last 20 league meetings, dating back to the start of the 2014 season (D8 L8).
– The Fire are winless in 10 straight matches (D3 L7) and are one game away from equaling the club’s longest regular season winless run of 11 straight, set in April-June 2011 and matched between October 2020 and May 2021.
– D.C. United have collected just one point in their last four away matches, conceding at least twice in all four games. In fact, D.C. have conceded multiple goals in 13 of their last 17 away matches, dating back to last June.
– Kacper Przybylko scored in Chicago’s last match, a 3-2 defeat to Toronto on May 28. Przybylko has scored six times in eight career MLS matches against D.C. United, his joint-highest tally against any opponent (also 6 against Orlando).
– The attacking duo of Ola Kamara (6) and Taxi Fountas (5) have scored 11 of D.C. United’s last 15 MLS goals.