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Chicago Fire at Columbus Crew Betting Preview

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Aug/20/2020

Phase 1 of the MLS restart is underway with most teams playing their first games outside of Orlando this week since March. The Columbus Crew moved into first place in the league after sweeping Group E in the MLS is Back Tournament and now they host Chicago Fire on Thursday night. The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN and Fox Sports Ohio.

Columbus and Chicago have a long and storied history both in MLS contests and in U.S. Open Cup games. Chicago holds a narrow 16-11 lead in those matchups with 16 draws. Their last three matchups have been draws with the Crew winning 3-0 in 2018 and not falling to the Fire at home since 2013. 

Chicago Fire Outlook: Build Off Orlando 

The Fire moved from Group A to Group B after two teams left the bubble due to COVID-19. Even with the swapped opponents, Chicago came out of the gate ready to play with a 2-1 upset of 2019 MLS Cup winners Seattle in their first game. But Chicago didn’t score in the final two games, losing 2-0 to both San Jose and Vancouver as they were eliminated on a tiebreaker and didn’t play in the knockout round.

Robert Beric and Mauricio Pineda scored the goals in Orlando. Chicago heads on the road with four points on the season and they sit in 11th place in the 13-team Eastern Conference. Last year the Fire really struggled on the road with just two wins, five draws and a -11 goal differential in 17 games.

German keeper Kenneth Kronholm has started all five games in goal for the Fire with six saves and eight goals allowed. Raphael Wicky has started a core-six of players in all five games with defensive captain Francisco Calvo leading the way. Midfielder Djordje Mihailovic has stepped up with two assists while midfielder Gaston Gimenez has an assist as well. 

Columbus Crew Outlook: Ride the Momentum 

The Crew were easily the best team in group play in Orlando with three wins and three shutouts as they stormed past Atlanta United, RBNY and FC Cincinnati. The Crew stumbled in the Round of 16 with a shootout loss to Minnesota United but they achieved coach Caleb Porter’s goal of attaining nine points in the regular season standings. Goalie Eloy Room missed the last two games in Orlando with a leg injury and should be back for the Thursday night game against Chicago.

Forward Gyasi Zardes leads the Crew with five goals, four of which came in Orlando while midfield playmaker Lucas Zelarayan has three goals and one assist. Youness Mokhtar also scored twice in Orlando while Room and backup Andrew Tarbell combined for three shutouts. Captain and central defender Jonathan Mensah had a fantastic tournament locking down the top scorers on Atlanta United, Minnesota United and NYCFC.

The Crew have the stingiest defense so far this season with just one goal allowed in five regular season games and their +8 goal differential is tied for the league lead.  The addition of Zelarayan has opened up the offense and his midfield play, along with that of Darlington Nagbe, have freed Zardes and Mokhtar to attack the goal. 

Chicago Fire at Columbus Crew Betting Lines By Realbookies 

Chicago Fire to win: +286 

Columbus to win: -114 

Draw: +249 

Over/Under: 2.5 goals (O -103, U -128)  

Columbus looks to keep their momentum going with a home contest and they hope to have 25% capacity at Mapfre Stadium, which is in its final season. The Crew added two players this week in the transfer market with D Grant Lillard joining from Inter Miami and MF Emanuel Boating acquired from D.C. United. Their depth and attacking system should be enough to collect another win against Chicago. The Pick at Gameadvisers is Columbus -114

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