Fire hope to keep building momentum after beating Galaxy


Seventeen goals in 17 games is not a potent attack. Entering Saturday’s game at Toronto FC, the Fire are third-from-last in scoring, and their 1.76 goal-creating actions per 90 minutes are ahead of only four teams.

Against the LA Galaxy on June 1, there were some positive signs. The Fire scored two goals for the first time since April 6 and generated 11 shots.

That uptick must continue as the Fire (3-8-6, 15 points) begin a road-heavy portion of their schedule, not returning home until they’ve traveled to Toronto (7-7-3, 24 points), Orlando City (next Saturday) and Seattle (June 29).

That weak offense explains why the Fire are averaging under a point per game.

“The goal is to continue creating and scoring goals like we have done the last games and doing so consistently,” striker Hugo Cuypers said. “It starts with now the upcoming Toronto away game and knowing we have three away games in a row, which will be challenging with the position we are in now, and the position we put ourselves in doesn’t give us any other choice than taking points on the road. So it starts on Saturday.”

Cuypers, a big-money designated player, is relied on the most to score goals. On the surface, his five goals in 17 games are underwhelming, but he hasn’t gotten the service necessary to hit the net.

Since arriving in Chicago, his focus has been on the team, not enjoying the city and everything it has to offer.

“Especially the last three performances were good, that we fought our way into the system, and hopefully it can continue that way,” Cuypers said. “And for the rest, the weather is unbelievable right now. When family and friends are over, we really enjoy the city.”

Fire fans would enjoy things more if the attack — which won’t have to accommodate Xherdan Shaqiri while he plays for Switzerland in the Euros — keeps getting better. The Fire had momentum after beating the Galaxy but were not part of last weekend’s limited slate of MLS games.

Coach Frank Klopas isn’t concerned the open date will short-circuit any flow the Fire might have developed.

“Even after that [Galaxy] game, the preparation and the training has been really sharp,” Klopas said. “But it also gave an opportunity now, with the players, to take a couple days off just to rest not only physically, from a mental standpoint. Guys have put a lot into it, and the break came at a good time.”

The Fire have eight more matches before the Leagues Cup begins July 28. By then, they should know whether their offense has improved and if their playoff hopes are realistic. Klopas and the Fire know where they are: behind the pack and facing a schedule with 10 road games and just seven at home.

“The energy has been good. The results have helped, but we have to keep going and we have a long way to go,” Klopas said. “My message hasn’t changed. We know what our goals are in the end. We want to be in the playoffs. There’s no other way to say it. We have an uphill climb, and we have to approach every game like it’s a must-win situation.”





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