BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — The Chicago Fire will be the guests of honor for another stadium opening on Thursday night, and they’re certainly hoping their fortunes will be better the second time around.
Chicago were horrible in their visit to Portland, falling to the Portland Timbers 4-2 in the debut of JELD-WEN Field on April 14. That match marked the worst of the Fire’s season, with the team looking incredibly disjointed in the back and playing completely ineffectively up front.
“We definitely have to learn from the Portland experience,” Fire defender Gonzalo Segares told MLSsoccer.com on Monday. “We’ve talked about it and mentally we were not ready for the way in which they came out at us.”
Like they did in Portland, Chicago will face a lot of early pressure on Thursday, when they visit Sporting Kansas City for the opening of Livestrong Sporting Park (10 pm ET, ESPN2/TSN2). Last-place SKC have been on the road for their first 10 matches of the year and will be more than eager to start a turnaround in front of their home fans.
“I’m sure that Kansas City is going to be the same,” Segares said. “They’re going to come in the first minute playing 100 percent and put pressure on us. They’re going to be motivated; they want to win, especially with them being on the road for 10 games already, they need the points like we do. [We’ve] got to be mentally and physically ready to hold them off.”
Defender Cory Gibbs agreed, urging his team not to fall into the trap of facing a last-place side.
“We have to expect more from Kansas City coming into this game,” he said. “It’s another huge game, their season opener, their stadium opener and we have to be fully prepared for it.”
Though the Portland experience was miserable for Chicago, Segares thinks the team will be better off on Thursday because of it.
“You definitely learn from things like that,” Segares said. “I think that now most of the guys know what it takes to go into a stadium like that and to be ready from the beginning.”
Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.