Fire chase first win at Columbus since 2013

By Thomson Reuters Mar 8, 2024 | 2:49 PM

As reigning MLS Cup champions, the Columbus Crew expect to get every opponent’s best shot.

The Chicago Fire, who play at Columbus on Saturday, are no exception.

“They’re the defending champions, so I think right now they’re maybe the best team in the league, especially at home,” Fire midfielder Maren Haile-Selassie said. “It’s going to be an interesting challenge for us.

“While they have a great team, I think we have a great team this season, as well, and it’s on us to show that we can compete with them. Against good teams, in the past we did pretty well, so it’s going to be an exciting game.”

Chicago (0-1-1, 1 point) has not won in Columbus since June 22, 2013, with nine losses and four ties. The Fire do have the advantage of being the fresher team.

The Crew (1-0-1, 4 points) played at Houston on Wednesday in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions Cup Round of 16. The Crew host the Dynamo in the return match on Tuesday so coach Nancy Wilfried has to do a balancing act with his lineup against the Fire.

Diego Rossi is the only Crew player to start the two MLS matches as well as the Champions Cup while attacking players Christian Ramirez, Alex Matan and Cucho Hernandez came off the bench vs. the Dynamo.

The Crew won 1-0 on a 90+6 goal by Matan.

“I am pleased with the players I have,” Nancy said. “We have another game against Chicago and after that we’re going to play (Houston) again so we need freshness and rest and after that we’ll see.”

The victory in Houston eased the sting of 1-1 tie at Minnesota United last Saturday when the Loons scored in the 90+4 minute. Columbus opened the season with a 1-0 win vs. Atlanta United.

Hernandez has scored both Crew goals in MLS play. He has five goals in three matches against the Fire.

“It’s good to play the top teams early on and really to gain experience and to test ourselves,” Fire coach Frank Klopas said.

— Field Level Media