Chicago's momentum key to overcoming Real Salt Lake
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – The Chicago Fire are feeling good about themselves after a stirring comeback victory against Chivas USA last Friday.
For the first time since 2009, they have more wins than ties or losses. They sit in the top half of the Eastern Conference despite having played fewer games than eight of their conference foes.
But Logan Pause knows the Fire are in no place to be overconfident heading into Wednesday’s bout with Real Salt Lake (8:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
“I think there’s definitely an element of confidence,” Pause told MLSsoccer.com. “But it’s so early in the season, we need to understand that [the stoppage-time victory over Chivas] is one win. We’re looking forward to really testing ourselves. Salt Lake is one of the best teams in the league.”
In their last four games, in which they’ve gone 2-1-1, the Fire have trailed at some point.
But playing from behind against winless Toronto, who Chicago beat 3-2 after trailing 2-1, and Chivas USA, who are winless at home, may be different than falling behind to RSL.
“It would be nice to have the lead for a while,” defender Gonzalo Segares said. “We had it in Toronto for a little while, and then [they scored] two quick goals and we gave it away.”
One player in particular that helped spur the Fire against Chivas was Austin Berry, who was filling in for the suspended Jalil Anibaba. Mirroring the Fire's propensity to come from behind, Berry conceded the penalty that handed Chivas USA the lead, but bounced back with a goal of his own and a strong defensive performance to boot.
While Klopas has been reluctant to make lineup changes, Berry may be able to work his way into a starting job.
“Austin did a very good job [against Chivas],” Klopas said. “Sometimes a guy misses out, a guy comes in and does well, you win, it’s difficult sometimes to change the team. You feel confident putting him in.”
The Fire are just beginning a busy month of May in which they’ll play six games, and it won't get any easier after Salt Lake, with Chicago hosting Eastern Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City on Saturday.
However, wins against RSL and Sporting would no doubt help them build on the momentum they started to collect last Friday against Chivas USA.
“I think if we click with the same idea that we had against Chivas, that we should be able to create a lot of problems,” Segares said.
“For me, [Real Salt Lake is] probably, if not the best, one of the best teams in the league. They’re a team that has the ball, they win the ball, and they have a lot of patience moving it around. At the same time, it doesn’t mean that they’re invincible. “