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Four Questions: Alex Calabrese of MenInRed97



Photo by Jack Verdeur
We caught up with Alex Calabrese of MenInRed97 again to see what’s been happening with the Chicago Fire since they came to Chester a month ago. My answers to Alex’s questions are on the MenInRed97 website.
Chicago hasn’t lost since they dropped that game to Philly a month ago. What’s happened with the group?
A. Over the last four games, the Fire have had some highs and lows, but the main thing has been that the attack has been clicking. Surprisingly, the front four has looked better without Xherdan Shaqiri, who was injured against the Union last time, with Brian Gutiérrez stepping up with three assists from the #10 position, and the team has picked up two wins, with Chris Mueller scoring twice and Kei Kamara scoring thrice. The defense – particularly goalkeeper Chris Brady and center backs Rafa Czichos and Carlos Terán – have been very solid.
Chicago’s been in some high-scoring games and some very low-scoring games. What’s happening on both sides of the field there?
A. As mentioned, the attack has looked much better without Shaqiri in the middle, though he may be returning this weekend. The addition of Kamara has also significantly improved the attack, since Kacper Przybyłko simply hasn’t been producing at all. The Fire have struggled mightily in midfield with Fede Navarro out injured all season so far, which has been one of the reasons the Fire have shipped quite a few goals; he returned to training this week.
The Fire is undefeated at home this year. What does Soldier Field do for the team?
A. There is certainly an element of literal home-field advantage, similar to what the Bears have traditionally enjoyed over the years. Soldier Field is considered one of the worst turfs in the NFL, so that applies to the Fire too, and it is also the second narrowest field in MLS. The home supporters also play a role; while the numbers may be small, they are very loud.
Will Chicago have any notable absences? What are your lineup and score predictions?
The only confirmed player out for Chicago is Victor Bezerra, who likely wouldn’t have played anyway. The aforementioned Shaqiri and Navarro, as well as DP Jairo Torres, will all likely be available after returning to training this week from long injury layoffs. Most likely, the team will lineup in the usual 4-2-3-1, with Chris Brady, Miguel Ángel Navarro, Rafa Czichos, Carlos Terán, Arnaud Souquet, Fede Navarro, Gastón Giménez, Chris Mueller, Brian Gutiérrez, Xherdan Shaqiri, and Kei Kamara making up the XI. I do think the Fire will win this one, I’ll say 1-0.

Joe is a junior at Penn State studying journalism and sports studies, among other things. He's covered the Union since 2017 and has written for Brotherly Game / Philadelphia Soccer Now since 2019. He seeks to answer life's greatest questions, such as, "How did I get here?" and "Where is that large automobile?" You can find Joe on Twitter (iamjoelister) or via email (

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