Apr 14, 2018; Chicago, IL, USA; Los Angeles Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (9) takes the field before the game against the Chicago Fire at Bridgeview Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
The Chicago Fire played in front of a packed house, but still took a 1-0 loss to the LA Galaxy. Zlatan Ibrahimović scored the only goal of the game.
Here are three things we learned from the match:
Schweinsteiger sweeper experiment a mix of pros and cons
Bastian Schweinsteiger played at sweeper for the third match in the young season, and it was the same story as the previous two: The defense gets some improvement, but the midfield greatly suffers.
Dax McCarty struggled to get as involved in the game as he was throughout last season. The Fire had difficulty building out of the back, even with Schweinsteiger sitting deeper. And the defense still gave up a goal on a header to Zlatan Ibrahimović despite having three centerbacks.
The Schweinsteiger sweeper experiment is a result of weaknesses in the Fire’s roster. It’s a matter of spinning plates — move one player to compensate for something and another weakness pops up elsewhere.
Neither team comfortable in new setups
It was Ibrahimović’s first start for the Galaxy. He started next to Ola Kamara in a 4-4-2, something the Galaxy haven’t started a match in yet this season.
Windy and wet conditions made elegant play difficult, but the Galaxy struggled to get either striker involved outside of crosses. Ibrahimović’s goal was a header from a long cross from Ashley Cole.
Formationally, things were similar to recent games for the Fire, but two centerbacks, Jonathan Campbell and Grant Lillard, got their first starts of the season. Johan Kappelhof, a stalwart in the Fire’s defense, moved from his usual centerback spot to right back. Things were disjointed in midfield for the Fire and chance creation was at a minimum.
Stars still draw crowds
For all the talk of MLS moving on from being a place for aging stars, those stars still fill seats. On a harsh spring afternoon, the Fire had a sellout crowd.
The match sold out days before the game.
The announced attendance of 21,915 was the largest since the Fire moved to Toyota Park. The biggest cheers were for Ibrahimović. And when the Swede went up against Schweinsteiger in a one-on-one situation, the crowd made noises of anticipation.
Younger players are improving the quality of the play, but fans will still go see the big name stars in their mid-30s.