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Massive Predictions: Columbus Crew SC at the Chicago Fire

The rivalry renews once again. How will it go down this time?

If you feeling like we just did predictions for a Columbus Crew SC and Chicago Fire match, you’re not wrong.

When this contest kicks off on Saturday afternoon, it will be one month and four days since these two sides helped open the 2017 Major League Soccer season. That match at MAPFRE Stadium resulted in a 1-1 draw that saw the home Crew SC side walk away much more frustrated than the visiting Fire.

This time around, the scene shifts to Bridgeview, IL, home of Toyota Stadium. Whether it’s been Soldier Field, Naperville or the current home of Chicago (Bridgeview?), Columbus has struggled on the road with a 6-14-10 record at the Fire.

Can the Black & Gold extend a three-game winning streak in a place that hasn’t been the friendliest over the years? Let’s see what our staff thinks of this match.

Kris Landis

I really didn't anticipate saying this, at least not this early in the season, but Crew SC look legit. Wil Trapp and Artur are starting to gel, and the defense is playing solidly, seemingly regardless of who is on the pitch. Gregg Berhalter is tweaking tactics based on opposition and is generally getting them right. All in all, the team appears to be coming together. That's why despite Crew SC's remarkably bad history of heading to Bridgeview, I think they have a real chance of getting something from this match.

The offense has been getting it done, and against a slightly porous Bridgeview back-line, I see goals in this one for the Black & Gold. Justin Meram has been white-hot, and I expect that to continue. The addition of Kekuta Manneh, either from the off or as a late game sub, will also add some punch to the attack. If Trapp and Artur combine to have another good game and control the midfield, no easy feat against Dax McCarty and Bastian Schweinsteiger, it will go a long way to settling this one.

My only worry is the backline, who have played well overall through this three game stretch, but have still looked vulnerable at times. In the Crewsmas Day meeting between these two teams there were several times that Bridgeview got in behind the backline, only to be caught offside. If their timing is better this time out, it could be a problem for the Black & Gold.

All things considered I think Crew SC continue their winning ways here, though it will be close.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Chicago Fire 1

Josh Enke

Chicago's 2-2 draw with the Montreal Impact this past weekend made me acknowledge two things: 1) the Fire central midfield is strong and 2) Bastian Schweinsteiger is still a player to watch. The retired German international's debut illustrated he's not just washing up (at least right away) here in MLS. Barring any injury, I see no reason to not expect a quality season from the veteran playmaker. Rotting away on a Manchester United bench must have gotten him hungry to star again.

While I don't see Schweinsteiger finding a way to lead the Chicago metropolitan area team to a World Cup championship, he could be a helping hand against Columbus this Saturday at Toyota Park.

Without Juninho, the German midfielder and Dax McCarty will be quarterbacking the Bridgeview midfield. I expect more of what we saw against Montreal: very dangerous weighted through balls from Schweinsteiger. With David Accam's speed and Nemanja Nikolic's smart positioning, watch the Fire central midfield's attempts to thread balls forward.

As for the Crew, I think Alex Crognale may start over Jonathan Mensah. Starting a rookie over a DP is odd, but there's something special about Crognale's development and form; it shouldn't be hindered.

The rest of the team, like Crognale, seem to have discovered an early-season momentum. They're confident. The Black & Gold attacking core will be smart to take advantage of their opponents questionable backline. Once you get beyond the Fire's revamped midfield, there's still a very suspect defense.

I see super sub Kekuta Manneh coming in midway through the second half and finding his debut goal.

It's wrong to predict against a run of form.
Columbus Crew SC 3 Chicago Fire 1

Sam Fahmi

Columbus Crew SC is streaking and they are taking their talents to Bridgeview to take on the fighting Shweinsteigers (aka Fire). The only similarity between this game and the Crewsmas day opener though is the fact that Juninho will not be playing. Otherwise, these two teams are very different from a mere month ago.

Crew SC discovered a seemingly successful plan B. Artur and Wil Trapp are gelling into a formidable midfield pairing, and Ola Kamara is not the only one scoring goals. The Fire added multi-international trophy winner Bastian Schweinsteiger, who has already managed to contribute in his first MLS game. This game is critical for Crew SC, in my opinion, as it is the first road game, and second overall, of a 10-game stretch verses Eastern Conference opponents. How Columbus does during this stretch of games will probably define the rest of the year and solidify their contender or pretender status.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Chicago Fire 1

Josh Mlot

The addition of Bastian Schweinsteiger makes this a different team than the one Columbus faced in the season opener. He was immediately a game changer. That said, the Fire faced a Montreal team missing a bevy of starters, including the best two players on the team, and still had to scrape out a draw. I think Chicago is still figuring how it fits together, the defense can be pulled apart and Juninho won't be there (again). Still, we see week in and week out that getting road wins is very difficult, so Crew SC will have its work cut out for it. Will we see Kekutah Manneh's debut, and will he be a difference maker? I think a road point would be valuable and continue Columbus' unbeaten streak.
Columbus Crew SC 1 Chicago Fire 1

Nathaniel Marhefka

The last outing against the Fire saw both sides held level at one. It's been a few weeks since that opening match and both teams have improved. Chicago have Bastian Schweinsteiger and he obviously is a potential difference maker but will it be enough to displace an in-form Columbus Crew SC? I don't think so. The Black & Gold have been on fire of late and with the masterclass performances from Justin Meram, Artur, and Alex Crognale. Chicago has looked better since their opening match but have only beaten a very poor Real Salt Lake side. Defensive question marks provide a good opportunity for Columbus to net a few.
Columbus Crew SC 3 Chicago Fire 1

Nick Clarkson

Columbus Crew SC has clearly been at peak form in recent weeks, recording three straight wins for the first time since the end of the 2014 season — and with a trip to "Chicago" slated for Saturday, I don't think the winning stops here. Despite acquiring World Cup champion Bastian Schweinsteiger, the Fire have struggled against the Black & Gold as of late and have not claimed three points from a clash with Crew SC since June of 2013. With that, I think Justin Meram continues his fine play out on the wing of a Gregg Berhalter 4-2-3-1 formation, Alex Crognale continues to gain experience and records another clean sheet and Ola (somewhat) gets back on track with a goal.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Chicago 0

Guilherme Torres

This will be the second time Crew SC and the Chicago Fire have met this season and I think this game will be a little bit different from the first encounter. Even though the Fire improved with Bastian Schweinsteiger's arrival, the Crew is arguably a lot better than it was a month ago as the team apparently found its identity and is playing very competitive soccer right now.

Add to that the fact that Juninho will miss the game (as he did a month ago) and that sounds like a reasonable scenario for a Crew SC win. I believe Gregg Berhalter's side will play smart soccer, as it did last week against Orlando City, and will manage to extend its winning-streak to four with a single-goal win.
Columbus Crew SC 1 Chicago Fire 0

Patrick Murphy

It’s been an interesting last few weeks for both of these sides. The Fire made international headlines when the club added Bastian Schweinsteiger, while Crew SC quietly went on a three-game winning streak and climbed to the top of the MLS table. As Wil Trapp pointed out this week, which situation would you rather be in right now?

Going to any parts of Chicago has always been tough for Columbus and I don’t expect this game to be any different. It’s been since 2012 that the Black & Gold have won four matches in a row and that’s due to it not being an easy thing to do in MLS.

I think Schweinsteiger will have a bit of an impact, as he did last week. Crew SC need to keep track of David Accam and Nemanja Nikolic because the German can find these players with ease and that can cause issues for a Columbus backline that I think will once again be without Jonathan Mensah.

The winning streak comes to an end, but the unbeaten run stays alive.
Columbus Crew SC 1 Chicago Fire 1

Collin Johnson

Even after only a few games, this Chicago Fire team should look much different from the team Crew SC faced at MAPFRE Stadium in week one of the 2017 MLS Season. Though, like in week one, Juninho won’t be playing, Bastian Schweinsteiger should be a huge improvement just by virtue of being on the field.

Crew SC has yet to play a complete game this season. There have been some great halves (the first halves against Chicago and Orlando come to mind), but there have also been some real stinkers (Chicago second half). If Crew SC want to fully establish themselves as early-season-playoff-favorites, they will have to put together a complete game at some point, and Schweinsteiger’s second home game seems like the perfect opportunity.

I expect we’ll see our first Kekuta Manneh appearance this weekend, and I’m hoping that it’s against a tired Fire backline. It will also be interesting to see whether Berhalter let’s Jonathan Mensah take his time to recover, with the emergence of Alex Crognale as a force on the backline. I’m expecting Chicago to score first, but Columbus to even the game by the half and get a winner in the second half.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Chicago Fire 1

Ralph Schudel

The more I’ve have studied tape for this game, the more I realize that this game will be won in the midfield. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Dax McCarty will provide a great test for Artur and Wil Trapp. I expect Columbus to thrive but I also expect Chicago to hit back. David Accam is dynamic and has scored in five of his last six appearances against the Black & Gold. Justin Meram is on a tear this season and I expect him to tally one. Of course “GOLA” Kamara will find the score sheet as well. Unfortunately, both teams split the points.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Chicago Fire 2

Patrick Guldan

Columbus is coming off a three-game winning streak and have looked pretty good doing so with timely goals and improved defense. It’s unclear if Jonathan Mensah will be back in the lineup, but Crew SC are still in good position to deal with an improving, but not quite good yet Chicago team. The addition of Bastian Schweinsteiger will allow the Fire to create more from midfield, but Artur and Wil Trapp have meshed quite well and current form puts them in the upper tier of midfield parings. If the duo can maintain that performance, the Fire will have a long day.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Chicago Fire 1

What do you think? Can Crew SC make it four wins in a row or will the Fire get the best of them? Let us know in your thoughts on the match in the comment section below.