FC Cincinnati looks to extend its season-opening unbeaten streak to four games Saturday night when they visit the Chicago Fire at Soldier Field.
Cincinnati is 2-0-1 to start the 2023 campaign and brings a two-game shutout streak to the Windy City. The Orange and Blue notched a satisfying 1-0 victory over the Seattle Sounders last week and have allowed just one goal through three games.
"We need to understand that it's a good result for us and good teams respond in a strong way, whether you have good results or poor results," Cincinnati coach Pat Noonan said. "I'm looking forward to a strong performance from our group on the weekend."
Cincinnati is 8-2-3 in its past 23 regular-season games, dating back to June 2022. One of those losses was to the Fire, dropping a 3-2 decision on Oct. 1, 2022.
They'll be without defender Nick Hagglund, who will serve a one-game suspension following a red card shown in the 83rd minute against Seattle. Although Seattle took a dozen shots in the game, keeper Roman Celentano needed to make just one save against the Sounders.
Chicago enters the contest still dealing with the offensive struggles that plagued the Fire throughout 2022. After having the league's opening week off, the Fire have scored only once in their first two matches, playing to a 1-1 draw against New York City FC on March 4 before being held off the scoresheet in a 1-0 setback by the Philadelphia Union last week.
Even though Chicago was playing with 10 men for almost the entire second half in the game at Philadelphia (Fabian Herbers drew a red card after a second caution in the 50th minute), the Fire defense held up until the 90th minute.
Joaquin Torres scored for Philadelphia, and making matters worse, Kei Kamara also drew a red card for the Fire -- so both Kamara and Herbers will be unavailable Saturday night.
"It's a devastating feeling just not to come out of (the game) with at least a point," forward Kacper Przybylko said after the match. "We did such a great job in the first half, especially with the new formation. It's just tough. But I think we just need to keep our heads up and just look forward to the next game."
The Fire could also be without midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri, who is listed as questionable with an upper right leg injury. Shaqiri had seven goals last season, second on the club behind the since-departed Jhon Duran.
--Field Level Media