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Played
September 4, 2010 4:00 PM EDT
Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Ill.
Referee:‬ Mark Geiger‎
 
88′ Collins John
Omar Gonzalez 90+1′

Chicago Fire - Los Angeles Galaxy: Head To Head Preview

Marquee matchup in Major League Soccer.

By Isaac Heath and Andrea Canales

Sean Franklin, Los Angeles Galaxy; Marco Pappa, Chicago Fire; MLS (Getty Images)
On Form

Chicago Fire: Whether or not he will be 100% for the game Saturday is questionable, but John Thorrington stepped into the Chicago Fire midfield last week and looked as if he had been playing all year long. While Nyarko and Pappa have really been heart of the midfield this year, the experience and exuberance of Thorrington sparked the Fire despite the loss in Seattle last week.

Los Angeles Galaxy:
Chris Birchall doesn't get anywhere near the attention David Beckham does, but he's come on strong for the Galaxy of late, forcing a near-miraculous save from the Kansas City goalkeeper last week. While rookie Michael Stevens seems to be hitting a bit of a wall, Birchall is looking more comfortable than ever while on the field.

Off Target


Chicago Fire: As I said last week, Nery Castillo has been a disappointment so far and the Fire midfielder has to show  something to the sell out home crowd this Saturday or things could get ugly. That being said, the Fire defense has been extremely inconsistent of late. C J Brown looks old and has trouble keeping up with any kind of pace that comes at him, while Krol and Conde have each been shaky as well. The Fire will announce a big signing on Friday and while some think it will be the reintroduction of Cuauhtemoc Blanco, I would not be surprised to see Jay Demerit come to Chicago.

Los Angeles Galaxy:
The Galaxy midfield has been a bit out of sync lately, and only some of that is attributable to the absence of Brazil's Juninho. Whether due to his trade deal to Everton being denied, or to wondering who the USA's national team coach will be, Landon Donovan has appeared distracted of late. He hasn't played badly, but his knack for making a difference when the game is on the line has deserted him. The Galaxy need a spark, and perhaps Beckham will provide that soon, but he's not yet ready to play.

Tactics

Chicago Fire: De los Cobos has been using Ljungberg up top with either McBride or John and then when he plays, putting Castillo on the wing. With Ljungberg suspended because of yellow card suspension and Pappa gone on international duty, it would not be shocking to see Castillo play up top with McBride or John. I would also not be surprised to see Castillo on the left wing with Calen Carr getting the start up front. They will likely implement a 4-4-2 and Chicago will likely push the pace early in front of a full house at Toyota Park and will hope to duplicate their excellent start against the Galaxy last month in Los Angeles.



Los Angeles Galaxy:
Dema Kovalenko is likely to face his former team as Galaxy coach Bruce Arena looks to add his grit to the Galaxy midfield. Juninho may also join the team in Chicago, which will make a big difference if he manages to shake off the travel jet-lag. If Donovan is able to play on the wing or as a second striker, he will have more freedom to roam than when he is tasked with play-making duties.

Intangibles


Chicago Fire: Every game Chicago plays at this point is extremely important because they are in an uphill battle for a playoff spot at this point. LA has been playing awful of late as well and is begin to lose the big lead they built up the first half of the season. With this being an important game for both teams in front of a capacity crowd, expect a show.

Los Angeles Galaxy:
The Galaxy have a lot to prove - despite their impressive record, they have bowed out of every trophy race this season, and thus, haven't shown themselves capable of getting wins when it really matters. Though they are not fighting for their playoff lives like the Fire, the Galaxy are battling to stake their claim to the Supporters' Shield trophy. They must pull together and show it matters to them when playing a very motivated Fire squad.



Outcome

Chicago Fire: I see the Fire winning this one 2-1 in front of the big home crowd.

Los Angeles Galaxy:
The Galaxy are likely to improve upon thier recent play, but not enough to take the victory. A 1-1 draw will be the result, with Edson Buddle and Brian McBride trading goals.

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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
25Sean JohnsonGoalkeeper
-C.J. BrownDefender
18Steven KinneyDefender
18Mike BannerMidfielder
11John ThorringtonMidfielder
21N. CastilloStriker
13Gonzalo SegaresDefender
2Wilman CondeDefender
12Logan PauseMidfielder
14Patrick NyarkoStriker
20Brian McBrideStriker
50Andrew DykstraGoalkeeper
3Kwame Watson-SiriboeDefender
19Corben BoneMidfielder
4Baggio HusidicMidfielder
3Calen CarrStriker
7Krzysztof KrolDefender
15Collins JohnStriker
1Donovan RickettsGoalkeeper
22LeonardoDefender
5Sean FranklinDefender
-Jovan KirovskiStriker
9Edson BuddleStriker
7Tristan BowenStriker
88Alex CazumbaDefender
2Todd DunivantDefender
4Omar GonzalezDefender
-Dema KovalenkoMidfielder
10Landon DonovanStriker
12Josh SaundersGoalkeeper
20A.J. DeLaGarzaDefender
-Michael StephensMidfielder
-Bryan JordanStriker
9Mike MageeMidfielder
6Eddie LewisMidfielder
-Chris KleinDefender
Players to Watch
Brian McBride
Brian McBride
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 20
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
Landon Donovan
Landon Donovan
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 10
Games Goals YC RC
5 0 0 0
Probable Lineups
Sean Johnson 25
C.J. Brown 0
Steven Kinney 18
Mike Banner 18
John Thorrington 11
N. Castillo 21
Gonzalo Segares 13
Wilman Conde 2
Logan Pause 12
Patrick Nyarko 14
Brian McBride 20
Donovan Ricketts 1
Leonardo 22
Sean Franklin 5
Jovan Kirovski 0
Edson Buddle 9
Tristan Bowen 7
Alex Cazumba 88
Todd Dunivant 2
Omar Gonzalez 4
Dema Kovalenko 0
Landon Donovan 10
Results
 
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E. Torres E. Torres
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V. Sánchez V. Sánchez
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Colorado
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Federico Higuaín Federico Higuaín
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Columbus Crew
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Dominic Dwyer Dominic Dwyer
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Sporting KC
4 1