Chicago Fire FC Draws Against Inter Miami in Xherdan Shaqiri’s Debut

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Chicago Fire FC began its 2022 campaign on Saturday with a point as the new-look Fire squad played Inter Miami to a draw in South Florida.

Despite the absence of goals, the opening 30 minutes of the match was a fairly open affair with chances aplenty. Both teams were denied by the woodwork after impressive build up play, but ultimately a defensive-minded Fire FC grabbed a coveted point in their debut. The bigger picture, however, was that team chemistry flashed among what is a completely revamped Chicago Fire FC roster.

Chicago played their first match under new manager Ezra Hendrickson. It also marked the Fire debuts for Kacper Przybylko (Philadelphia Union), Rafael Czichos (FC Koln), Jhon Duran (Envigado), and of course, Xherdan Shaqiri (Lyon). The latter of the four made waves when Chicago announced in early February the signing of the legendary Swiss No. 10. Despite all being key additions to a revamped roster, Shaqiri is the key signing of the offseason as he has the talent and pedigree to become not only Fire’s best player, but one of the best players in all of Major League Soccer.

There is something to be said for key European signings and the marks they can leave on MLS sides—both on the pitch and for the fan base. The likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, David Villa, and Thierry Henry are arguably amongst the league’s greatest. Chicago is no stranger to the significance of such signings after seeing first hand what a player like Bastian Schweinsteiger did in revitalizing football frenzy in Chicago after signing from Manchester United in 2017. Shaqiri enters the fold two full years younger and in much better form than Schweinsteiger did. The Swiss midfielder also cost Fire FC a whopping $8M transfer fee, the largest in club history.

BREAKING: Chicago Fire and Lyon are finalizing a deal for midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri per source. Deal not 100% done but close.

Shaqiri, 30, has 100 caps with Swiss national team. Previously with Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan. pic.twitter.com/o55K8uWAmp

— Tom Bogert (@tombogert) February 4, 2022

“We’re extremely pleased to formally welcome Xherdan Shaqiri to the Fire,” said Chicago Fire FC Sporting Director Georg Heitz. “Xherdan is a game-changing player and someone who will bring joy to our supporters and the city of Chicago. As one of the most accomplished Swiss athletes of his generation, Xherdan joins us at a very important time for the Club and fully believes in what we are aiming to accomplish. We look forward to welcoming him and his family to Chicago very soon.”

Simply put, Chicago Fire FC have not been very good in recent years. After finishing in 12th place in the Eastern Conference last season, the Fire needed a full overhaul. Shaqiri is the face of that, even if he’s not charged with single-handedly flipping the club’s futility into success. The MLS hasn’t feared the Fire’s attack in nearly a decade. In fact, they have more Wooden Spoons (last place) than playoff appearances since 2013.

Fire will need to finish the chances they do get if they hope to push single points into the much-needed three-point results it takes to make the Audi Cup MLS Playoffs in 2022. Grabbing a road point against an Eastern Conference foe is an important first step, especially with a new-look eleven that did not get much offseason training together. As time goes on, offensive chemistry will improve and goals will come as a result.

Chicago Fire FC’s next match is March 5th in their home debut at Soldier Field against Orlando City SC at 5PM. You can watch the match locally on WGN-TV or on MLS Live on ESPN+ with a subscription. Come back to UrbanMatter Chicago for all news, updates, and recaps of the Chicago Fire FC’s 2022 MLS campaign.

Featured Image Credit: Chicago Fire FC on Facebook

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