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Caleb Porter insists Columbus Crew must improve after a run of three defeats left them off the pace in the Eastern Conference.

MLS champions Columbus lost 3-2 to Atlanta United last time out, a second successive home defeat and a third in a row in total.

The run has left them seventh in the East, and a trip to face Chicago Fire is next up on Sunday. The Fire sit 11th, but are unbeaten in three matches.

“Our fans deserve better,” Crew coach Porter said. “And we’re going to make it right.

“There are a lot more positives in the game than you might think. Myself, the players, the coaching staff, we’re not going to lose sight of that.”

Chicago, meanwhile, have 11 of their last 15 MLS games away from Soldier Field.

”To be able to make the playoffs, we have to push on the road, as well,” Fire midfielder Fabian Herbers said.

”We have to get points on the road. We have to mature on the road. We have to play dirty and keep points there, as well.”

Key to the Fire pushing for the playoffs will be the form of Robert Beric. He scored 12 goals last season, but has been unable to replicate that form in 2021.

”I believe that he will always have chances and always score goals,” coach Raphael Wicky said of Beric, who has been a substitute in the last three games.

”He will get his minutes in those upcoming weeks and months, for sure, because of so many games.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Chicago Fire – Luka Stojanovic

Luka Stojanovic scored twice in the first eight minutes for the Fire in their win over the Red Bulls on Saturday.

Columbus Crew – Lucas Zelarayan

Lucas Zelarayan created Columbus’ first goal in their defeat to Atlanta. He has scored six goals and provided two assists so far this term.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Only Inter Miami (16.9) has a lower expected goals value (xG) in MLS this season than the Crew’s 18.3. Columbus has scored 21 goals, outperforming their xG by 2.7, second-most in MLS (Real Salt Lake +3.2).

– Stojanovic’s double last time out was the fastest any player has scored two goals from kick-off of an MLS match since Cristian Penilla scored twice in seven minutes for the Revs against Toronto in May 2018.

– Columbus is unbeaten in seven straight matches against the Fire (W3 D4), including a 2-0 win on June 19. The Crew haven’t managed consecutive wins over the Fire since a pair of wins in July 2015.

– The Fire have lost only one of their last seven home matches (W3 D3) after losing three of their previous four matches at Soldier Field (W1). Chicago has scored multiple goals in five of the seven home matches in this current run after scoring once total in the previous four.

– The Crew are on a three-match losing streak for the first time since dropping five straight in June-July 2019. Columbus has allowed 11 goals over the three matches, the most its allowed in any three-match span since conceding 12 times to Seattle, Toronto, and Houston in August-September 2011.

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