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Chicago Fire returns to suburbs to face NYCFC

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It will be a blast from the not-so-distant past Wednesday when the Chicago Fire hosts New York City FC at the Fire’s former home in the suburbs.

Wednesday’s game will be played at SeatGeek Stadium just outside of Chicago in Bridgeview, Ill., where the Fire played for 14 seasons before moving back to Soldier Field in 2020. The Fire had called the home of the NFL’s Chicago Bears its own home venue from 1998-2001 and again from 2003-05.

Now it is back to Bridgeview for a single game because of a conflict in the Soldier Field lease that prevents an event at the stadium for up to five days before a Bears game. The Bears host the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

The Fire have just been OK at the bigger venue, anyway. They are just 5-5-5 at Soldier Field this season and their crowd of just 15,951 for Sunday’s 0-0 tie against Nashville SC was a season high.

Sunday’s game was played on an uneven field following a Notre Dame-Wisconsin football game one day earlier.

“The divots, the holes, the bumps, the long grass not wet, that affects the players a lot,” Fire head coach Raphael Wicky said. “It is what it is.”

Nowhere near a playoff berth, the Fire (6-15-6, 24 points) are 13 points off the playoff line and are winless in five September games (0-4-1). They have scored just two goals in the five-game stretch and have been shut out four times.

In a bit of a malaise themselves, NYCFC (11-9-6, 39 points) hopes to take advantage of the Fire’s recent struggles. NYCFC sits third in the Eastern Conference but is just 1-3-2 in September and enters off a 1-0 defeat to the New York Red Bulls at home Saturday.

In back-to-back games against a Red Bulls side that is seven games off the playoff line, NYCFC scored just one goal. Perhaps even more alarming is that NYCFC is just three points ahead of Atlanta United FC, who in eighth place are the first team on the outside of the playoff picture.

“The games have been very, very close lately but we haven’t had things go our way,” NYCFC head coach Ronny Deila said. “We can look as much as we want at our results (but) we have to go back to the performances and get them as (productive) as possible and the points will come.”

–Field Level Media

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