Orlando City continues busy stretch vs. hot Fire (Jun 04, 2017)

BY AP • June 3, 2017

Orlando City FC is playing its third game in nine days. The Chicago Fire are fresh after 10 days off.

Both teams are looking up at Toronto FC in the MLS Eastern Conference standings as they meet Sunday at Orlando City Stadium.

The Lions (23 points) and Fire (24) are chasing first-place Toronto, which has 29 points after a 3-0 loss to the New England Revolution on Saturday.

Orlando City (7-5-2) enters the game after a 2-0 midweek win over D.C. United but faces a Chicago team (7-3-3) that has won four straight and last lost on April 29.

Since entering the league in 2015, Orlando City is undefeated against the Fire. But this year's Chicago roster has been revamped with players such as Nemanja Nikolic, David Accam and German star Bastian Schweinsteiger.

"They're a rejuvenated team from the past couple of seasons," Lions forward Giles Barnes said of the Fire, according to the team's website. "They've got a really good midfield, they've got something really going there. They work hard, they possess the ball, and they're a team playing with confidence.

"But we should have no fear of anyone. We feel we're good enough to compete and beat anyone in the league, and that's the attitude we have to take."

Orlando coach Jason Kreis called Chicago a "very, very dangerous team."

"Schweinsteiger in the midfield, probably Juninho as well with (Dax) McCarty with the national team, so strength in the center of the midfield and guys that can score goals and make plays up top," Kreis said after training this week. "So really dangerous opponent for us and a difficult situation with us having played a midweek game and them not."

McCarty will miss the match while on international duty with the U.S. national team, which played Venezuela on Saturday.

The Fire beat FC Dallas 10 days ago to complete an undefeated May.

"When you're in this kind of momentum, in this kind of flow, you want to play every day a game," Chicago forward Michael de Leeuw told MLSSoccer.com.

Without McCarty, the Fire will depend even more on Nikolic, the league's leading goal scorer.

"He's a finisher and he doesn't need so many chances to score goals, and he can be very dangerous," Schweinsteiger told the Chicago Tribune.

The Fire will try to create chances against the Lions, who are 6-1-1 at Orlando City Stadium this season.

"If the team is good, the strikers score goals," said Nikolic, who has scored nine of his 11 goals at home. "Everybody speaks about the strikers when they score goals, but that's not the most important (reason) for our success. We're happy with our start, but we have the talent to get more victories. The city and our fans deserve it."


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