The Chicago Fire made headlines this week when they completed undoubtedly one of the biggest signings in the history of MLS by acquiring Bastian Schweinsteiger from Manchester United.
Journalist flub or not, the former Germany international will be exciting to watch; the Fire have instantly become a much more difficult team to beat.
While he is unlikely to receive significant playing time on Saturday, the Fire are still a very different team than they were last season. Former New York Red Bull Dax McCarty, and former LA Galaxy player Juninho headline the central midfield for Veljko Paunovic’s Fire.
The two offseason gains for the Fire create what is now one of the best midfields in the league.
David Accam remains one of the fastest players in the league, and will likely be a threat for the Fire.
Michael de Leeuw often plays as a number 10 for the Fire, and is also capable of scoring goals.
New arrival up front Nemanja Nikolic could also create problems for the Impact, who are without Laurent Ciman.
The Fire could also have some troubles on defense though, with Johan Kappelhof missing Saturday’s game due to suspension.
That means Jonathan Campbell will likely get his first start of the season, joining a young backline with Brandon Vincent.
The Impact will need to exploit this if they want to have a chance to earn points in Chicago, especially without Piatti.
What makes this Fire team so different from that of years’ past is their ability to control the ball.
With their strong central midfield, it’s likely that they will be able to hold the ball for most the game.
Montreal’s counter attack is generally run through Piatti, so it will be difficult for the Impact to create chances. It will be key for Oduro and Mancosu to be clinical in front of goal.
This could also be an opportunity for Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla to earn his first MLS start; Could be a suitable replacement for Piatti.
Regardless of who plays in that spot, it will be key for the Impact to be compact defensively to stop a more attacking Fire than Impact fans are used to.