Match Preview: Midfield Reckoning?
T-minus 55 hours from kickoff (depending on when you read this), with DCU looking for 9 points out of 9 to start the season. It’s possible, but the Midfield needs to perform.
Through 2 games we’ve documented some struggles in central midfield. Primarily our inability to control, retain, and distribute the ball effectively; while giving up some easy possession. On Saturday DCU will be without Moses Nyeman and may receive limited minutes from Russel Canouse, coming off of injury.
During Wednesday’s press conference, Losada said the following regarding the central midfield;
"We knew in November that we needed to address the position. We had two players with a lot of minutes leaving. It's not just Nyeman's suspension or Canouse's injury. I don't know where we are in addressing that issue."
He clearly isn’t happy with his roster fill… But we have to play with the cards we’ve been dealt. Thus far, Djeffal has shown pretty well – and I think deserves the start come Saturday. But how will he (and whomever he is paired with – likely Canouse) fare against a Chicago Fire midfield that is an upgrade from the midfield pairings DCU has faced thus far in 2022?
Fire DP Zerdan Shaqiri is obviously a great player; and he’s been a big part of the Fire’s early season play. Shaqiri seems to touch the ball on almost every possession and has been good in distribution moving forward. Early on, seemingly nothing significant happens without Shaqiri.
The other possible mismatch in the midfield is with Gastion Gimenez. He has certainly had his ups and downs with the Fire, but Manager Ezra Hendrickson has stated that he’s happy with Gimenez’s play. Gimenez is physical and very good in possession and distribution.
Can our unproven midfield stand up to their physical and technical counterparts?
In their first 2 games, the Fire have struggled to stretch the field vertically and lack dynamic speed options. Because of this they’ve relied on possession and buildup (they have 52% possession in both first 2 games combined); which I do think is in DCU’s favor, matchup wise.
What to Expect: I think we’re going to see the fire play through Shaqiri and look for diagonals and switches to take advantage of DCU’s formation of 3 at the back. Shaqiri will likely move a little further up the field in a more attacking role if DCU are unable to control midfield play.
Statistically, DCU and the fire are very similar; with Chicago outshooting, outpassing, and out possessing DCU just slightly in all three categories. At writing DCU are slim favorites in Vegas with the over/under set at 2.5.
Surely Chicago can’t have three 0-0 results in the row, right? Heart says 1-0 to DCU…head says 1-1.