Eastern Conference strugglers go up against each other today (8pm ET Saturday), as the Chicago Fire take on DC United at Soldier Field. Both teams are in desperate need of reprieve following a string of bad results, but can either team do something that they’ve not done in a while and put a valuable three points on the board?
This CFFC vs DCU predictions and preview article takes a deep dive into this MLS game before concluding with betting picks.
There has been very little for the Fire to shout about in recent weeks, and it’s been that way for a while now. Today’s hosts have won none of their last ten MLS fixtures and are now winless in 11 in all competitions. After showing no shortage of fight and determination to hold the New York Red Bulls to a tie a few games ago, they would’ve hoped to kick on. It has been the opposite, with that encouraging performance followed by back-to-back losses against NYCFC and Toronto. A win is needed, especially since the regulars at Soldier Field haven’t seen their team leave the field victorious since mid-March.
Fortunately for the hosts, on this occasion, they are not alone, as the visitors have been in similarly dismal form. They may have tasted victory more recently than the Fire, but the D.C. boys have little to show for it, as they too linger at the wrong end of the table, just three points above Chicago. Back-to-back home wins against New England and the Red Bulls in May ought to have sparked some serious life back into Hernán Losada’s men, though they’ve since gone five without a win, so that hasn’t really happened.
Just like the home fans will be looking to witness a first home win since March, D.C.’s traveling faithful will be hoping to see their team pick up all three points on the road for the first time since match-day two.
Best and the worst
On one hand, and unlike a team bringing up the rear, the Chicago Fire have been one of the very best defensive teams in the Eastern Conference this term. Only one team has conceded fewer goals than the Fire, who’ve shipped just five in six at Soldier Field, keeping a pleasing three clean sheets. They’ve also been the very best in terms of expected goals conceded, surrendering a solid average of 0.71, which means that they really have been sturdy in terms of restricting their opponents.
Unfortunately, such defensive astuteness has come at a price, and it is a rather heavy one. The Fire are the worst team in the east in terms of goals scored at home. They’ve scored just five goals, failing to score in three out of six. It’s not as if they can blame bad luck either, as creatively, they’ve been poor too, producing a paltry average of 0.9 expected goals, which tells us that they’ve scored just about as many as they’ve deserved to.
If there is a positive then it’s that they have scored in each of their last two at home, producing their best xG numbers for a while. Realistically, you’d expect more from the Fire, especially since their acquisition of Xherdan Shaqiri, who has certainly added something. He is yet to take the league by storm in the way that many people thought the ex-Liverpool, ex-Bayern Munich and Swiss international would.
Visitors in a similar position
The visitors’ efforts on the road have mirrored Chicago’s at home somewhat. They too have done a good job of restricting teams in terms of xG, conceding a respectable average of 1.20 per 90 minutes. Unfortunately, their xG number doesn’t quite match the 11 goals that they’ve conceded on the road.
At the other end, they’ve endured struggles that match those of the hosts. Losada’s men have scored five in five, scoring in four of those of five, while they’re currently producing an average of 1.20 expected goals per 90 minutes. That isn’t terrible, though it’s far from what’s required to climb the table. Only two teams in the Eastern Conference have performed worse in terms of xG for on the road.
CFFC vs DCU: Not much between the pair
Head-to-head records should always be taken with a pinch of salt, but for those who pay close attention to such things, there has been no level of supremacy in this fixture in recent times, as the pair have each won two of the last five renewals of this fixture, while four of the last eight renewals have ended all-square. When the pair last met earlier this season, it was the Fire who emerged victorious, winning by two goals to nil at Audi Field, their first win in the District of Columbia since 2017.
Goals to stay away from Soldier Field
With the teams in similar positions, we are likely to see both believing that they can get a positive result from this fixture, but does that mean that goals will flow? The early betting certainly seems to think so, with ‘Over 2.5 Goals’ currently standing at -128, though at +108, taking the opposing view could be where the value lies.
As we can see from the above numbers, neither team has flourished offensively, yet both have the defensive numbers to suggest that they can stand firm. The Chicago Fire are the best in the east when it comes to xG against at home, while the visitors are the second best in the league in terms of xG against on the road.
Overall, this preview is talking about two of the worst performers in terms of xG for across the whole of Major League Soccer. We are also talking about a duo that has failed to score in a rather chunky 40% of their combined fixtures, so don’t be surprised if we see a low-scoring affair unfold at Soldier Field today. With regards betting predictions and picks for this MLS game preview, just the one will suffice: