The Chicago Fire have been in Spain for the past two weeks, and now it is time for the team to head back across the Atlantic.
The Fire concluded their action in Spain with a 1-0 win against third-tier side C.F. Fuenlabrada in Madrid. The match took place in the early hours of Wednesday morning Chicago time. The Fire will head back to Chicago on Thursday.
This was the Fire’s second preseason match, but the first 90-minute match. A week ago, the Fire played Atletico Madrid B to a 1-1 draw in a 70-minute match.
In both matches the Fire trotted out what appeared to be near-first choice starting lineups based on available players. That could change based on further moves, but coach Veljko Paunović went with unsurprising lineups to start out both times.
In goal, recently-acquired David Ousted started last week, but he didn’t play on Wednesday. Instead, Richard Sanchez got the start and played into the second half before Stefan Cleveland replaced him.
The back line, as it stands, appears to be Johan Kappelhof and offseason acquisition Marcelo pairing at center back, Diego Campos at right back and Raheem Edwards at left back. Kappelhof joined the team a few days late in Spain after signing a new contract.
Campos and Edwards are converted attackers. How they acclimate to their new roles will be one of the major question marks for the Fire heading into 2019.
With that defense, Bastian Schweinsteiger has been able to move back into central midfield with Dax McCarty. Schweinsteiger played at center back on and off in 2018, but general manager Nelson Rodriguez said earlier this offseason that it is preferred to have him move back to midfield.
In the attack, Nemanja Nikolic will lead the line for the third straight year. In support of him is returning winger and designated player Aleksandar Katai. Newly acquired Przemyslaw Frankowski has played on the opposite wing of Katai.
Katai scored the only goal following a short corner.
Picking up right where he left off. 😮
— Chicago Fire (@ChicagoFire) February 6, 2019
Djordje Mihailovic joined the team straight from playing with the U.S. national team in two friendlies. Mihailovic, 20, scored in his first cap. He was inserted into the No. 10 role on Wednesday.
The Fire had a trialist at center back, Christopher Schorch, come on in the second half. The 30-year-old German was under contract with German third tier side KFC Uerdingen 05, but was released for disciplinary reasons last week.
After flying back, the Fire will train in Bridgeview on Sunday before heading back on the road. This time the team will be in Charleston, S.C., for three friendlies in eight days.