BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – This is how the season was supposed to start for the Chicago Fire.
Sure, the lineup is a little bit different than coach Frank Klopas originally intended. After pressure mounted with each loss early during a disappointing start to the season, the Fire have won two of their last three games. They thought they had improved in the offseason, and that assertion is looking more and more accurate after each passing game.
“We've strung together some nice results,” captain Logan Pause said. “We're looking as these last few games as something to build on.”
Heading into Saturday's game in Montreal (4 pm ET, NBC Sports Network, LIVE chat on MLSsoccer.com), the Fire are confident they're headed in the right direction. They'll look for their first road win of the season against the Impact, who have gone cold over the last few weeks after winning four straight games to start the season.
The Fire played perhaps their best half of the season last Saturday against Columbus, a week after they put on a surprisingly ambitious offensive effort in Houston.
Against the Crew, the Fire created chance after chance, and a few nice saves by goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum and some shoddy finishing were all that kept the Fire from winning by multiple goals.
“We were playing higher up the field, we were able to win the ball back very quickly and were able to go on the attack right away,” midfielder Jeff Larentowicz told MLSsoccer.com. “They were constantly on their heels. When they did come down and get us in our defensive half, we were able to get it back and we broke quickly.”
The Fire front office held steady through a winless four-game start, saying they wouldn't make any drastic decisions. Heading into Saturday's game against Montreal, owner Andrew Hauptman thinks the Fire are back on track. But he knows the club still has progress to make.
“I’m hoping we turned a corner [in the Columbus game],” Hauptman said. “Certainly the second half was the type of soccer we know we’re capable and expecting to be playing. The first part of the season has been a disappointment, I don’t want to shy away from the truth but that’s been what it is.”
The Fire will certainly make every attempt to make a few additions this summer. But even with their current squad, the Fire finally feel good about their team's trajectory.
“[Saturday's second half] was the most complete performance we've put together,” Pause said. “Having the shutout continues to move us in the right direction.”