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Nashville SC-Fire Preview
Raphael Wicky is focusing on resolving the "little details" as Chicago Fire FC look to bring an end to their losing run when they host Nashville SC on Sunday.
The Fire have lost four matches in a row, failing to score in three of those prior to their 3-2 defeat at home to New England Revolution in midweek.
Wicky's side came within seconds of taking a point off MLS' top side, only for Carles Gil to fire in a 91st-minute winner.
That run of defeats has effectively ended Chicago's playoff aspirations, but Wicky is trying to stay upbeat after pushing the Revs all the way.
"We fought hard in the last match, played well, created a lot of chances," he said. "It's these little details that, were we to do better, we have the chance to do better.
"There were a lot of positives to take from the game against a very strong opponent. But yeah, that is what we take from this game but it's obviously very, very frustrating."
Nashville are 21 points better off than the Fire and have won four of their last five matches, most recently cruising to a 5-1 win at Inter Miami FC.
Hany Mukhtar scored twice in that game and now has 12 goals for the season and nine assists, which Nashville boss Gary Smith believes has him in contention for the MVP award.
"His name started to come into the equation a couple of weeks ago and of course I'm going to endorse that," Smith said. "I'm just glad others are able to see the qualities he has.
"Stats are important, but that doesn't tell the whole story with regards to what else he brings to the team. He can run the game and has been fabulous this year."
Chicago Fire FC - Gaston Gimenez
Gimenez is not in the Chicago side for his goalscoring ability, but he netted one and set up another in the Fire's defeat to New England. For context, the Paraguay international contributed just one goal in his first 18 appearances this season.
Nashville SC - Hany Mukhtar
There is more than just Mukhtar to this Nashville side -CJ Sapong has 14 direct goal involvements of his own - but the German forward is in great form right now. He has scored braces in two of his side's last four games and has assisted another during that period. Going further back, he has been involved in nine goals in eight matches.
- Nashville defeated the Fire 5-1 in the first meeting between these sides this season, on July 17. The five goals equal the most Nashville has ever scored in a match (five v D.C. United on August 15 and v Inter Miami on Wednesday) while it is the most the Fire have allowed in a match since a 6-2 loss to D.C. United in August 2016.
- Chicago have lost four straight games for the second time this season, having also lost four in a row in April-May. The Fire have lost 15 games for the fourth time in the last seven seasons after having never had a season with 15 or more regular season losses in their first 17 MLS campaigns.
- Nashville hit 10 shots on target in their 5-1 win over Inter Miami on Wednesday. It was the league-leading fourth time this season that Nashville has put at least 10 shots on target in a match, including hitting 12 on frame against the Fire on July 17.
- Gaston Gimenez was involved in both of the Fire's goals against New England on Wednesday (one goal, one assist). Gimenez had never been involved in more than one goal in a match in his MLS career prior to Wednesday.
- Mukhtar scored two of Nashville SC's five goals against Miami on Wednesday. It marked Mukhtar's fourth multi-goal game this season, most in MLS in 2021.
Updated September 25, 2021