ST. LOUIS - St. Louis vs. Chicago: when you hear it, you think of years of battles on the diamond and the ice. Rivalries with decades of history, rivalries both friendly and not-so-friendly.

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St. Louis City SC and the Chicago Fire do not have any real animosity towards one another as it stands. They played twice in one week last year, where City lost in the US Open Cup in the Chicago suburbs midweek, and MLS play at Soldier Field in front of hundreds of traveling City fans.

Chicago is also in the Eastern Conference of MLS, so unless the teams meet in the MLS Cup Final, there isn’t a hope of a playoff clash adding fuel to the feud’s fire the way we’ve seen between St. Louis and Sporting Kansas City.

“It's going to take time to build,” said Chicago Fire head coach Frank Klopas to the media this week. “It’s set in a great way where I think it can be a great rivalry in the future, but I think the great rivalries, I think those take place when you play year after year, when you play in important games and when you play in finals and when you play in playoffs and stuff like that.”

Coming into Saturday’s not-quite-rivalry matchup, both teams come into the game with two wins, but Chicago’s record comes with five defeats. The Fire sit in 13th in the East, with just 10 points, and have been trying to find answers to their own attacking troubles.

Chicago made a big move to put the captain’s armband on the left bicep of Xherdan Shaqiri to start the season. But as has been the case since his move to Lake Shore Drive, Shaqiri isn’t adding to the Fire attack as much as they’d like. Shaqiri only came on as a 65th minute substitute in their 1-0 loss at home to fellow Eastern Conference bottom-dwellers New England.

To his credit, when he’s on, the Fire have a dynamic edge. Last month he tallied a penalty goal and a fabulous long through ball assist in a 2-1 win over a Houston team that shut out St. Louis City in a goalless draw last weekend.

Xherdan Shaqiri was the one who swung in the free kick that was eventually booted home by Fire center back Rafa Czichos in City’s 1-0 loss at Soldier Field last May, the last time these two teams met.

“What’s last year is last year,” St. Louis head coach Bradley Carnell said. “We can’t work on anything [from last year] and use it going into this game. We have foundations in place, our standards in place, and we’ve grown in many moments [since last May]. I think in many ways we’re far more mature, we have a certain routine and a pattern now that we’ve proven over time is difficult to break down, and difficult to play against.”

Jumping into the present, there’s more talk about St. Louis City’s potential developments off the field as their exploits on it as of late, with The Athletic’s MLS correspondent Tom Bogert reporting talks have indeed taken place between City brass and Marco Reus over a potential summer transfer.

A week ago in my matchday preview I ran down why the dots were being connected to City, but that nothing formal was there. Now there is formal contact reported, terms discussed, talks taken place, whatever you want to call it, St. Louis City SC has indeed reached out to Marco Reus.

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That does not mean that the Dortmund legend is already putting pen to paper and looking for a condo in town anytime soon. There’s work to be done, but there’s mutual interest, which is a good start.

There isn’t too much development on the Cedric Teuchert front, but more reports in German outlet Bild have Teuchert signing with City once his contract with Hannover 96 expires.

Back on the field, and quite literally on it, there is fresh turf at CITY PARK this week. The previous turf was packed up and transported to St. Louis Composting, with a new pitch, freshly delivered from North Carolina, installed two weeks ago.

In Thursday’s press conference, Joao Klauss expressed concern over the new playing surface.

“Unfortunately, this field is not ready yet, we have to say the truth,” Klauss explained. “From the outside it looks very good, but inside, the field’s not ready. These are things we cannot decide unfortunately. In [City’s last home game], the field condition was amazing, the best. But we changed the field again and it needs time to fit.”

“There’s no excuses, it’s something we have to go through, but I hope they can fix it as soon as possible,” Klauss continued. “We have a great opportunity, in our next four games, we have three home games. We wish the field will be in a good situation because we like to play fast, we want fast games, we want intense games. Unfortunately, now [the field] plays kind of slow.”

What does the field “playing slow” ultimately mean for City? It could be the difference between an outlet pass connecting to a sprinting Tomas Totland or Celio Pompeu, or slowing down before it reaches them. Luckily for City, their high-pressing style often gives them possession in or around the attacking third, so they’re generally not reliant on moving the ball the length of the field via short passes the way a more possession-based team would.

On the injury front for City, Josh Yaro will be the one definite absence from the City roster, as he continues to make his way back from a hamstring injury. Two big game-time decisions are Eduard Löwen and Njabulo Blom, with both making significant strides in physical recovery to potentially be available for Bradley Carnell.

Eduard Löwen is a welcome game-time decision, showing that he is potentially match-fit once again and ready to rejoin the City fold after a prolonged absence caused by a combination of his hamstring issue and an ongoing personal matter. Carnell noted that while Löwen is fit enough to be considered for matchday rosters once again, the ongoing personal issue is still, well, ongoing.

“It’s always a two-parter with Edu (Löwen) at the moment,” said Carnell. “And we’ve asked for privacy and respect in that matter. So we’re just trying to get Edu in a palace where he feels physically comfortable and mentally comfortable as well.”

“When (Löwen)’s here, he has a certain aura around him with his presence and his quality,” Carnell went on. “It’s a joy to coach and watch with his teammates. So that’s the first part to success, now we’re getting him in a spot where he’s available to be in contention [to play], that’s the next step. So luckily, we have another day to decide that.”

Edu or not, City will be looking for three points against a less than stellar Chicago Fire team on Saturday night at CITY PARK. Kickoff is set for just after 7:30 p.m. with the game streaming on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV. Radio broadcasts can be found on KYKY 98.1 FM in English and KXOK 102.9 FM in Spanish.

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