Three observations from the Fire’s 3-0 rout of CF Montréal originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
The more than one-hour delay didn’t deter the Fire as they stormed, no pun intended, out the gate to beat CF Montréal 3-0 at Soldier Field.
As mentioned, the game was delayed from its initial start time due to severe weather in the area.
But the Fire certainly put on a show for those who stuck as first half goals by Brian Gutierrez, Maren Haile-Selassie and Xherdan Shaqiri put the game to bed before the break.
Here are three observations from the win.
The Fire can earnestly think about the playoffs
Chicago came into the match knowing a win over Montréal would put them squarely in postseason contention and they did not disappoint.
The win saw the Fire jump to ninth place in the Eastern Conference, giving them a spot in the MLS playoffs should the season end today. In other words, their season is very much alive. In addition to jumping to ninth, they have a three-point advantage over the four teams behind them.
A little over a month ago, it looked like the Fire were dead and buried, lounging near the bottom of the table and having recently fired their manager.
Now, they’re very much in the conversation to make the MLS playoffs with some reinforcements on the horizon.
Koutsias shines in his best game since joining the Fire
Before the game against Nashville SC, manager Frank Klopas was asked about Georgios Koutsias and how close he was to starting.
Klopas mentioned he was very close but that he was still young but with a hunger to get better.
Against Montréal, Koutsias had what was likely his best game since joining Chicago.
He was directly involved in the team’s first two goals. It was Koutsias who fought to keep control of the ball inside the area before leaving it for Gutierrez to score. For the second, again, Koutsias made the run with the ball inside the box, somewhat reminiscent of the first one. He laid it off to Shaqiri who couldn’t quite control it. But Haile-Selassie was there to slot it home.
Koutsias showed what he is capable of and given he is only 19-years-old, he’s going to get plenty of opportunities to continue to show his quality. This was his second start in a row, meaning he’s starting to gain Klopas’ trust.
Turning it on when it counts
One of the things that characterized the Fire was their ability, or lack thereof, to show up when it mattered most. Even earlier this season, there were a handful of games where they let leads slip late and would either tie or lose the game.
These last five fixtures, the Fire have turned things around.
Even with the loss against Orlando City, the Fire have won four of their last five games, allowing only four goals.
Prior to the start of this three-game homestand, everyone knew it was a crucial one and one that could come to define their season. They’ve won two with one game to go. The Fire will now look to continue to climb the standings or, at the very least, put some distance between themselves and the teams behind them.
The Fire will be back at it quickly as they wrap up their homestand against lowly Toronto on Saturday, July 15.