Five games in, Fire have questions to answer

While there are encouraging signs, the Fire have only won once in five tries entering Saturday’s game against Minnesota.

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The Fire have one win - and one loss - five games into the season.

Courtesy of the Fire

The Fire are just five games into the season, and there are some encouraging signs. Their only loss came at Philadelphia after spending most of the match down a man, and they’ve managed to stay afloat without getting much from Xherdan Shaqiri, Federico Navarro and Jairo Torres.

At the same time, the Fire (1-1-3, 6 points) have won once and have kicked away chances for at least another victory. They haven’t been able to play a complete game where both the attack and defense click.

With so much unknown, here are three questions worth thinking about as the Fire prepare to face Minnesota United (3-0-2, 11 points) on Saturday at Soldier Field:

Why have Brian Gutierrez and Kei Kamara clicked so well?

Gutierrez doesn’t turn 20 until June, and Kamara is 38 and the only player in league history to score with 10 clubs. Gutierrez and Kamara have been teammates for just a few weeks, but they’ve already built a connection.

The duo combined for the game-winning goal when Gutierrez set up Kamara’s strike at Inter Miami, and if not for a fluke save last week by DC United goalkeeper Tyler Miller on a Kamara header after a Gutierrez cross, they would have repeated the feat.

“I’m just feeding off some of his abilities that [Gutierrez] has,” Kamara said after the DC game. “Right when he took that touch, he had a little scan in the box, and it takes just that millisecond for both of us to have that eye contact. Maybe even the foot was not his strongest foot, but I knew he was going to play that ball.”

Why aren’t the Fire winning at home?

Like they have routinely since moving back to Soldier Field, the Fire have had a glut of home games to start the season. The Minnesota matchup is the second of a three-game homestand, and Philadelphia’s visit on April 15 will already be the Fire’s fifth match in Chicago.

But so far, the Fire haven’t made use of the home-field advantage. All three home games have resulted in ties, something the Fire must fix soon if they don’t want to be in the familiar position of needing points on the road in the second half of the season.

“We need all six points from these next two home games,” Gutierrez said. “These are must-win games. They would feed us a lot throughout the season, and I’m looking forward to it.”

What’s going on with the attendance?

The Fire drew a strong 19,671 in the season opener March 4 against New York City FC. Since then, attendance has plummeted.

The Fire announced a crowd of 7,815 two weeks later against FC Cincinnati, and then 8,621 when they tied DC United. Hopefully for the Fire’s sake, those small numbers are because of the weather. The Cincinnati game is believed to be the coldest home date in team history, and the DC match was played in blustery, chilly conditions.

To make matters worse, the new Apple broadcast deal has moved the vast majority of league matches to 7:30 p.m. local time, which isn’t helpful for teams in colder climates.

A more accurate judge of the attendance and how big of an issue this is will come when the weather gets better.

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