Soldier Field Chicago

Atlanta United FC vs. Chicago Fire Pick & Prediction JUL 30TH 2022

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The Chicago Fire look to continue their surge up the Eastern Conference table on Saturday when they host struggling Atlanta United.

Sparked by two goals apiece from teenage forward Jhon Duran and veteran center back Raphael Czichos, Chicago (7-10-5, 26 points) has won three in a row to climb up to ninth in the East.

It's the Fire's highest position since late April and takes them within two points of the seventh and final playoff spot. Maybe more impressively for first-year coach Ezra Hendrickson's squad, the streak immediately followed a 3-2 home loss to Columbus in which the Fire gave back a 2-0 lead late.

"When I look at what transpired in the Columbus game and how the team was able to respond since, you know, that to me shows a lot of growth in the team," Hendrickson said this week.

Former Liverpool and Switzerland star Xherdan Shaqiri leads the team with four goals.

Kacper Przybylko has only three in his first season with Chicago after hitting double digits twice in three seasons in Philadelphia. He missed the last two games due to injury but is off the injury report ahead of Saturday's clash.

Atlanta (6-9-6, 24 points) needs its own win streak to meet lofty expectations at a club that has won an MLS Cup and U.S. Open Cup title in its first five seasons.

But manager Gonzalo Pineda's squad has been its own worst enemy in conceding early goals, allowing eight of its 33 total allowed this season inside the first 15 minutes.

It happened again last weekend when Kevin Cabral scored seven minutes into Atlanta's 2-0 loss at the Los Angeles Galaxy.

The visitors were arguably the better team after halftime but couldn't find the equalizer before Dejan Joveljic added insurance for LA deep into stoppage time.

"We are conceding goals in the first 10-15 minutes of the games and that's becoming an issue that we are trying to address and we are trying to fix," Pineda said. "So hopefully, this game we can go in at halftime with a clean sheet."

Ronaldo Cisneros leads Atlanta with six goals and Josef Martinez has five.

The latter was left out of Pineda's starting lineup last weekend, as was teenage winger Thiago Almada, though both came on at halftime.

--Field Level Media

Atlanta United FC vs. Chicago Fire

Robert Beric scored in his fourth consecutive match to help lift the Chicago Fire to a 2-0 victory over Atlanta United on Sunday evening at Soldier Field.

Beric now has a team-leading six goals in his first MLS season after scoring Chicago's second goal before halftime. Fabian Herbers opened the scoring.

Bobby Shuttleworth made five saves and preserved a second consecutive shutout for the Fire (4-7-3, 15 points), who have won two straight for the first time this season.

Chicago moved into 10th place in the Eastern Conference and above the playoff line.

Brad Guzan made four stops for Atlanta (4-8-2, 14 points), which failed in its bid to win consecutive matches for the first time since opening the season 2-0-0.

The visitors dropped to 11th with the loss and beneath the playoff line. Atlanta has reached the postseason in each of the three previous seasons.

Chicago took the lead after seven minutes. Gaston Gimenez made an exceptional steal at midfield to start a counterattack, then found Herbers to his right.

Herbers controlled the ball with his first touch, then with his second drove a shot that squeezed beneath Guzan's arm and across the goal line. It was Herbers' second goal in as many games, and fourth since play resumed with the MLS is Back Tournament in July.

Beric doubled the lead in the 39th minute after a flowing attacking sequence.

Gimenez again started the attack, and Djordje Mihailovic provided the key pass, chipping it between two defenders to Beric at the top of the box. Beric took a touch, then finished low past Guzan from 15 yards out.

On the other end, Shuttleworth twice made exceptional stops to deny Atlanta's Adam Jahn his second goal of the season.

In the 18th minute, Jahn crisply controlled a pass with his thigh, turned and fired a shot to force Shuttleworth into a reflex stop. Then in the 59th, Shuttleworth sprawled to his right to push Jahn's well-placed flashing header wide of the post.

--Field Level Media
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