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Massive Predictions: Chicago Fire at Columbus Crew SC

The two Eastern Conference rivals clash again. Who comes out on top?

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Chicago Fire Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

For the third and final time this season, a classic Eastern Conference rivalry renews between Columbus Crew SC and the Chicago Fire.

The two sides have met twice already this year. On opening day, the Fire managed to leave MAPFRE Stadium with a 1-1 draw. A month later, Crew SC travelled to Toyota Park where Chicago managed a 1-0 win in Bastian Schweinsteiger’s second game with the club.

Heading into this meeting back in Columbus, the Men in Red sit second in both the East and the Supporter’s Shield race. The Black & Gold have managed to hang on to the sixth and final playoff spot, but need to string together some results with Orland City SC and the Philadelphia Union close behind.

Can Crew SC get a win over the Fire at home or will Chicago take this season’s series between the two? Let’s see what our staff thinks.

Patrick Murphy

I don’t have a good feeling about this game from a Crew SC perspective. The Fire are seem to be in a groove and is pushing Toronto FC for the top spot in MLS.

With that said, Chicago is not good on the road (2-5-4) and Columbus’ 1-0 loss at Toyota Park was actually one of the better results for a visiting team there all season. But Federico Higuain is likely still out for this one and Niko Hansen picked up a knock.

I don’t expect the defense to be able to handle the Fire’s attacking men, so it will be up to the offensive players to shoulder the load for the Black & Gold. Given the inability to capitalize on chances, and the decreased number of them in the new formation, I don’t see that working out well for Gregg Berhalter’s men.

For the first time all season, I’m not picking a Crew SC result at home.
Chicago Fire 2 Columbus Crew SC 1

Josh Enke

The Chicago Fire is burning over into Columbus and I have a full bladder, but does Crew SC?

I thought Chicago would slip around the halfway point of the season. That hasn't happened. The rivals have maintained a mostly stable form sitting at a comfortable second place in the Eastern Conference. This steadiness, however, stands true when hosting at Toyota Park. Fortunately, for Crew SC, Veljko Paunovic and company are iffy on the road at the moment, not having an away win since June 17.

Though the Bridgeview-based franchise has witnessed an incredible turn in form this season compared with, really, the past few years, I think Columbus defends the fortress and delivers for the home crowd. Every black and gold blooded supporter should (probably see a doctor) want to catch this one firsthand.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Chicago Fire 0

Kris Landis

It pains me to say this, but the Fire are a legitimately good team this year. They have quality on both sides of the ball, but their attacking prowess in particular is scary. With Higuain likely out, Finlay gone, and Santos not able to play yet, I just don't see Crew SC having enough to win in a shootout, and I certainly don't see the defense keeping Chicago quiet.
Chicago Fire 2 Columbus Crew SC 1

Collin Johnson

With only 10 matches left to grab points and secure a playoff spot, almost every match becomes a must draw, at least, for the rest of the season. Add the loss of Ethan Finlay and the lack of a work visa for newly signed Designated Player Pedro Santos and Crew SC face an uphill battle against the second in the Eastern Conference Chicago Fire. If Crew SC can limit the effectiveness of Nemanja Nikolic and Bastian Schweinsteiger, the team should be able to at least eke out a point at home.

Wins are paramount at this stage in the season, and especially at home, but Columbus can take every point they can get from here on out.
Columbus Crew SC 1 Chicago Fire 1

Nathaniel Marhefka

Matches against the Fire are always difficult. It's a tough rivalry and traditionally, a lot of matches end in a deadlock. Chicago has been red hot this season, however, and they very well may be the best team in MLS currently. Then, there is the question marks on Federico Higuain and what that has brought to Crew.

Columbus has not won a match in the past three, and have struggled to generate steady offensive production. So going into this match, it makes me nervous. However, it is a home match for the Black & Gold and despite falling short to the San Jose Earthquakes, they actually looked quite good. Higuain aside, I think Columbus has a real shot in this one, but it will be one of the toughest matches of the season no doubt. I think the offense picks up a little, but the team struggles to contain the likes of Nemanja Nikolic and David Accam up top.
Columbus Crew SC 2 Chicago Fire 2

Ralph Schudel

I am very interested to see how this match shakes out. Chicago is so hot and cold this season, it's amazing to me they are second in the Eastern Conference and have performed so poorly on the road and players like Bastian Schweinsteiger have yet to find the score sheet away from home this season.

However, Chicago is still Chicago and they are damn good at what they do. One has to think Veljko Paunovic has to be in the running for Coach of the Year and Nikolic could take the Golden Boot honors this year, but the player that scares me the most is David Accam.

If David Accam is on, I fear for Crew SC especially with their inability to transition on the counter against players with pace.

Despite Chicago's road struggles, I think they come away with a result.
Columbus Crew SC 1 Chicago Fire 1

Patrick Guldan

Columbus Crew SC is looking forward to some home field advantage, but are facing probably the second-best team in MLS right now. The Black & Gold have struggled against upper tier competition going 1-4-1 against the beasts of the East Toronto, Chicago, and New York City FC.

Without the talent injection that Pedro Santos is expected to bring and a still hampered Federico Higuain and Harrison Afful doubtful, Chicago is in excellent position to take all three points. They have the pace and movement to make the still shaky back three pay for the mistakes that build up.
Chicago Fire 2 Columbus 1

Agree? Disagree? Have some other thoughts on the match? Let us know n the comment section below.