Chicago Fire vs Orlando City SC

Nani looks to lead his Orlando City SC against the Chicago Fire and their legend in mid-field Bastian Schweinsteiger on Saturday, March 9th at 1:00 PM EST at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, IL. The broadcast is available on ESPN+ and Youtube TV; radio is available via Univision Radio WRTO AM 1200, La Nueva 990 AM, FM 96.9 The Game, and My65.

How to Watch

What: Orlando City SC at Chicago Fire

Where: Toyota Park in Bridgeview, IL

When: Saturday, March 9th at 1:00 PM EST

How (TV/Radio): ESPN+, Youtube TV | Univision Radio WRTO AM 1200, La Nueva 990 AM, FM 96.9 The Game, My65

Orlando City SC (Away)

Head Coach: James O'Connor {Current: 0-1-0 (1) | Top Scorer: Christopher Mueller (1), Tesho Akindele (1)}

Key Players: Nani, Dom Dwyer, Sasha Kljestan

Expected Starting XI (3-5-2): Rowe, Miller - DeJohn - O'Neill, Acosta - Mendez - Kljestan - Johnson - Smith, Mueller - Akindele

Orlando City SC is still in the midst of building their squad, going into their first full season with James O'Connor at the helm. The team shouldn't have an issue scoring goals, as they sport the likes of Nani, Dom Dwyer, and Sacha Kljestan in attack. The question lies in whether or not Orlando City SC will be able to stop the ball from entering their own goal.

Their first match against New York City SC showed that they're not quite at the defensive standard that they want to show off. While they managed to force a 2-2 draw, they went down 0-2 in the first half and it seemed they were out of the game already.

Orlando was able to commit to the attacking side in the second half though. A goal from their two strikers Christopher Mueller and Tesho Akindele were able to draw the match level with two clutch goals by the 80th minute. The Orlando defence will be challenged again with the Fire's impressive front line.

Chicago Fire (Home)

Head Coach: Veljko Paunović {Current: 0-0-1 (0) | Top Scorer: C.J. Sapong (1)}

Key Players: Bastian Schweinsteiger, Nemanja Nikolic, Aleksandar Katai

Expected Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Ousted, Corrales - Kappelhof - dos Santos Ferreira - Campos, McCarty - Schweinsteiger, Frankowski - Mihailovic - Katai, Sapong

The Chicago Fire have are a capable scoring side, but it is their defensive half that leaves much to be desired. In their last match against the LA Galaxy they showed both sides of themselves. The 1-2 loss for the Chicago Fire leaves room for both optimism and criticism for the Illinois outfit.

After a scoreless first half, a goal from Chicago's C.J. Sapong brought the Chicago Fire up one on the LA Galaxy. It was an impressive show of skill from Sapong, who picked up a free ball and dribbled around the LA Galaxy defence for a great individual goal.

Unfortunately for Chicago the second half reinforced all of the clubs concerns. Once LA Galaxy was able to find their bearings, their attack was primed to score a goal. LA finished the match with 58% possession and every attack seemed to be closer and closer, until they finally finished Chicago with two goals to ice the match.

What's At Stake?

It has generally been an even contest between the Chicago Fire and Orlando City SC. Since 2015, each team maintains three wins, three losses, and a draw against one another.

After drawing on opening weekend, Orlando City SC could use a win in order to separate themselves from the middle of the Eastern Conference.

The Chicago Fire will be looking to gain their first points of the season with a win or draw against the Chicago Fire.

Questions to answer

What is the plan with Nani?

Do Chicago have more attacking talent than expected?

We are going to compare Orlando City SC and the Chicago Fire in an attempt to see who has the advantage in this matchup.

Nani Is Not At Full Fitness

Head coach James O'Connor made it clear that the only reason Nani, and to that point Dom Dwyer, were not available to start the match was due to fitness. Once the two came on the field though, the team really showed off what they can do when they are available.

Not the speed demon he once was in his younger years, Nani's technical brilliance is incredibly valuable to The Lions. In a league with few truly talented mid-field maestros to break up play, Nani's ability in the middle of the pitch and on the wing is almost unmatched.

He is expected to take up residence on the wing once he becomes fully fit, but there are already concerns about his fitness going into the year. Riddled with injury problems earlier in his career, Orlando can't afford to push him to play 100% this early in the season. Results may suffer, but for now Nani will have to do as Orlando City SC's super-sub.

The Fire Are Impressive Going Forward

Homegrown talent Djordje Mihailovic was the surprising talent of the day when Chicago and LA Galaxy face off, but the entirety of the Chicago front line was impressive. While they didn't come away with the win in the first match, their play suggested that they are a team that will certainly create opportunities for many goals.

Lining up comfortably in a 4-2-3-1, Djordje was the middle attacker with Katai and Frankowski doing an excellent job running through pockets of space to become available for on coming passes. While narrow, the talent of Mihailovic as the playmaker created impressive opportunities and attacking runs for the wingers.

It is certainly an impressive first outing for the Fire despite the loss. Frankowski provides fantastic pace on the wine while Katai is incredibly decisive and composed in space. Nemanja Nikolic still needs to show he can be a valuable target man to further improve their style of play, but the Fire are no team to be trifled with in the attacking third.

Orlando City SC Roster Notes

D Ruan - 4 Mar 2019 - Day-to-Day (Quad) - Ruan is expected to be available for the match this weekend.

GK Adam Grinwis - 4 Mar 2019 - Day-to-Day (Concussion) - Grinwis is yet to pass concussion protocol.

Chicago Fire Roster Notes

D Andre Reynolds - 5 Mar 2019 - Questionable (Thigh) - Reynolds has not been cleared to play but Chicago training staff believe he may be available by the weekend.

Head-to-Head: Nani (ORL) vs Djordje Mihailovic (CHI)

Two impact players for their respective teams will be key when the Chicago Fire and Orlando City SC face off. Djordje Mihailovic may not have registered a goal or an assist, but his composure on the ball and distribution were impressive in their last match. On the other side, Nani may not have started the game, but his impact when he entered was felt immediately.

Nani

Winger | 175cm, 66kg (5'8, 146lb)| Portugal | Exp. 15 Years

322 Apps | 245 Starts | 0.26 Gls/90 | 0.57 G+A/90 | 1.05 SoT | 1.11 Fls | 0.20 Crd

It was surprising when head coach James O'Connor didn't list Nani in the starting XI. Their star acquisition of the season must not have met the standard for O'Connor going into the regular season, but Nani surely made his imprint on the match when he was subbed in. His pace and control are still top-notch, especially in MLS.

Djordje Mihailovic

Mid-Field | 178cm, 69kg (5'8, 152lbs) | United States | Exp. 3 Years

27 Apps | 16 Starts | 0.13 Gls/90 | 0.32 G+A/90 | 0.26 SoT | 1.35 Fls | 0.00 Crd

Djordje Mihailovic did make a registry on the stat sheet, but his performance for the Fire was splendid. The American seemed to always find himself in good positions, right in the open space between the opposing midfield and defensive line. The finish was lacking for the lad, but he showed flashes of being an impressive playmaker on a team lack options at the #10. If he can replicate his performance week in and week out, it's only a matter of time until he finds his name on the assist leaders table.

Orlando City SC at Chicago Fire Predictions and Odds

The oddsmakers have the Chicago Fire (-0.5) favored over Orlando City SC (+0.5), with a -130 for Chicago and a +110 for Orlando City.

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