Xherdan Shaqiri: Fire are ‘too nice,’ Must be ‘ruthless’ in Front of Goal

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Chicago Fire Designated Player Xherdan Shaqiri put it bluntly- his side needs to stop being Mr. Nice Guy in the final third. Shaqiri is completely right, the Fire badly need to find a finishing touch in the attacking third.

The Men in Red currently sit sixth in the Eastern Conference table, and while they are much improved, so far this season, there is still a whole lot of work left to do. The Fire are tied with DC United, Minnesota United, Vancouver Whitecaps and New York City FC for fewest goals scored in MLS this season with five.

On the plus side, they’re tied with the Philadelphia Union for fewest goals allowed in all of Major League Soccer, with two. Tomorrow night’s match will mark the first meeting between the Fire and the L.A. Galaxy since 2019. The game will be broadcast live at 7pm on WGN-TV, CF97 Live and transmitted locally in Spanish on TUDN 1200 AM.

Shaq may not play however, as head coach Ezra Hendrickson said his stat man is day-to-day right now.

“That’s going to be a gametime decision for us,” Hendrickson said of his Swiss midfield maestro.

“It’s something that we don’t want to rush, so we’re going to be very patient with that as far as that decision goes.”

Right now, the Fire’s problems aren’t about creating chances, but finishing them.

“I think we created (chances) a few times, but we have to finish it off better,” Shaq said.

“It’s not that we don’t create chances. We just have to be more clinical in front of the goal. In some games, you don’t have maybe a lot of chances, but you have to score in these one or two chances that you get. So we have to be more ruthless in front of the goal and against the opponents.

“This is only the thing that I’m thinking we are maybe too nice at the moment in front of the opponents. We have to be ruthless. We have to train more shooting. We have to have more of this mentality to score in every chance you get. But I’m sure it will come.”

Shaqiri continued:

“We are training every day hard to improve ourselves and still also defensively and offensively. So we try in the next games, obviously, to create, first of all, more chances and then also to try to finish off the chances and to score more goals because goals decide games, goals decide titles, and so on.
“So, we need to start scoring goals, too.”
Fire head coach Ezra Hendrickson added:
“Our ability to get from the back half to the front half needs to improve. We need to do that a little bit quicker. And then once we get into the front half, central combinations, getting balls to the wings, and getting crosses in has to be –we have to be more efficient in the final third.”
“We do create chances, but we’re just not scoring at the rate that we should be.”

Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Bank (TheSportsBank.Net) and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”

He has regularly appeared in WGNSports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune, and co-hosts the After Extra Time podcastFollow him on Twitter and Instagram

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