Following their first win of the season week in Miami, the Chicago Fire return to Soldier Field to take on Wayne Rooney and D.C. United. Ahead of Saturday’s clash with one of MLS’ most historic clubs, we spoke with Sarah Kallassy of the District Press to learn more about the opponent!
Last season, the Fire did the double over D.C., winning both matches home and away early in the season. How has United changed since last year?
Last season was, to say the least, a bit of a mess. D.C. United are in much better shape now under Wayne Rooney, who has a vision for the type of soccer he wants to play. As we’ve seen roster changes the vision has been sharpening and coming into focus, translated onto the field. We really had a bit of a franken-roster last year with players selected by three head coaches and one assistant head coach. A more cohesive roster that supports the style of gameplay Rooney wants is going to pay dividends this season. We’re in a bit of a forming, norming, storming process now, but the final product is becoming clearer every week.
D.C. are currently sitting just below the Fire in 13th place and are without a win since opening day; across the board, how have they looked so far this season?
The Black-and-Red are looking much better this season under the clear direction of Wayne Rooney. The results aren’t telling the whole story about the progress this club has made in forming a cohesive unit. D.C.’s attack has grown by leaps and bounds this season with the addition of Klich and tactical switch-ups by Rooney and the coaching staff. We would love to see improvements in defense though, as we’ve made some costly mistakes in the first five matches.
The Fire have been relatively successful against D.C. over the last few seasons. How do you expect D.C. to approach the game this weekend?
I think Rooney and his coaching staff will stick to their style of play with few alterations to last week’s overall roster. I would expect to see a surprise or two in the XI based on who performed well in training. We very well might see all three of D.C.’s DPs take the pitch on Saturday – which will certainly add some extra excitement to the match.
Which players from D.C. United should Fire fans keep a particularly close eye on?
As of late, I’d always say Christian Benteke. He has been an absolute danger man for D.C. United, finding opportunities in the box at every turn. Now, Taxi Fountas has returned to the lineup and poses his own danger to opponents. While D.C.’s last time out against the Revs was certainly not the result we wished for, three dangerous DPs on the field – Benteke, Fountas, and Klich – were a sight to behold. As they get comfortable with one another, we are looking forward to a menacing attack.