Week 8

MLS NEXT Pro's Game of the Week: Chicago Fire II and FC Cincinnati 2 on the hunt for momentous win 

Week 8 of MLS NEXT Pro is here and the Game of the Week is a heated contest between Chicago Fire II and FC Cincinnati 2 at SeatGeek Stadium in Bridgeview, Illinois on Sunday. The action is set to kick off at 6 p.m. ET.

How to watch 

This and every match will be available to stream live and free of charge on MLSNEXTPro.com.

MLS NEXT Pro has teamed up with automated camera technology provider Spiideo to deliver live streams of all MLS NEXT Pro matches, ensuring every game this season will be available for viewing on MLSNEXTPro.com.

The matchup is this week's MLS NEXT Pro Game of the Week, so viewers will experience a multi-camera production for this match.

It’s been a rough start to its inaugural MLS NEXT Pro season, to say the least for Chicago Fire II. The team from Chicago is winless through six games and sits ninth in the Eastern Conference with a 0-3-3 record. 

Fire II enter this week looking to avenge a 7-6 shootout defeat to Minnesota United FC II after the match ended in a scoreless draw in regulation. The game marked the fourth time this season Fire II have been held to zero goals by the opposition — the most in the league. The club also has started a new lineup every week and that’s something head coach Ludovic Taillandier pointed to after last week’s match as to why the team has struggled to build momentum. 

“We feel we are improving game after game. It was not great today, but that's an idea we have,” said Taillandier. “And we want to develop a defensive side based on putting pressure on the opponent as much as possible, which is not always the easiest part because when you don't have the same players from the last game to the next one, it's something difficult.”

Despite all the club’s struggles, this week’s match against FC Cincinnati 2 has promise. Fire II will be at home where it has a better scoring record and plays one of the worst defenses in the Eastern Conference. A momentous first win may be on the horizon for Chicago Fire II.

Players to Watch:

Chris Brady, goalkeeper - Brady grabbed his second clean sheet of the season last week along with four saves. Can the young keeper continue that form this week?

Carlo Ritaccio, defender - As the captain of Chicago Fire II, Ritaccio has to play an impactful role if the home side is to win. Look for Ritaccio to duplicate his stout defensive performance from last week. 

Chinonso Offor, forward - Offor scored two goals against Philadelphia Union II two weeks ago and might be due for more goals against this FC Cincinnati 2 defense.

FC Cincinnati 2 enters this week with the same aspirations of a huge win as the club is currently on a four-game losing streak with the most recent loss coming against Rochester New York FC last week. The team from Cincinnati sits below Chicago Fire 2 in the Eastern Conference standings at 10th with a 1-5-0 record. 

A major factor for FCC2’s struggles so far this season is the lack of stability in the backline as the club is tied in the Eastern Conference for the most goals conceded against with 13. In its four-game losing streak, the opposition has scored 11 goals compared to FCC2’s five. In order to break through and win, the visitors need to stand tall against the Chicago Fire II attack.

Head coach Tyrone Marshall said his team’s defensive woes come down to mental errors and having those mistakes at the wrong times.

“We weren't as disciplined as we were before, made some mental mistakes,” said Marshall after facing Inter Miami II. “ That's what you're going to get with the young boys, but if we can limit those mistakes in moments that won't affect us, and we didn't today. The mistakes were made in the moment that we needed to be good.”

If FCC2 can cut back on its defensive lapses and continue to find the back of the net, consider its four-game skid over.

Players to Watch:

Bryan Sanchez, forward - The 19-year-old was recently acquired on loan from Ecuadorian side SD Aucas. Look for the forward to add some flair and a spark to the FCC2 frontline. 

Kai Thomas, defender - The young defender has successfully completed 49 long balls this season, which is the second-most in the league. That must continue if the visitors are to score on the road. 

Musa Ramathan, defender - Ramathan was also recently acquired on loan but comes from MFK Vyskov of the Czech Republic. The addition of the 20-year-old Ugandan may be the strengthening of the backline FCC2 is in need of.