Chicago set the league record for consecutive home draws last weekend. With New York sputtering, will the Fire share the points yet again?
Chicago Fire: Unbeaten in six, earning four clean sheets in the last five matches, something has been going right for the Fire. The sun seems to be peaking at the right time for the Men in Red as a mere two points separates the Fire from ninth and their current 14th spot in overall playoff standings. The inclusion of Marco Pappa in the starting XI for Chicago may be crucial enough to push them past that blockade of drawing games. Midfielder Daniel Paladini’s form continues to sharpen every week and bolsters that strong midfield presence in the case of another Logan Pause absence. A rather inspiring Orr Barouch performance last Wednesday versus RSL also should also be looked upon as a legitimate threat for the New York backline.
New York Red Bulls: New York, the owner of MLS’s best goals-per-match average, continued to scorch back lines as the Red Bulls scored twice on Kasey Keller and the Seattle Sounders on Thursday evening. The haul is particularly impressive when New York’s absences - Thierry Henry and Luke Rodgers - are considered. Even with Dwayne De Rosario and Dane Richards leading the frontline, two midfielders differing from their natural roles, the Red Bulls scored a respectable tally.
Chicago: It is a nail-biting situation the Fire constantly keep finding themselves in. Falling shorter than ever in the hunt for three points now has Chicago as league record setters after earning its fifth consecutive home draw. The biggest concern is the diminishing attacking flame for the Fire. Forward Diego Chaves last found the net April 23 in a 1-1 home draw with the Houston Dynamo and Crisitian Nazarit will be serving his second absence of a two-match ban for his play that endangered the safety of his opponent in the 59th minute of the match against New England on June 18. This leaves Orr Barouch as the one who will have to double his efforts to put one in the nest for the Fire.
New York: After conceding three goals to the Timbers, the Red Bulls defense managed to one-up that shambolic performance. All four of the Sounders’ strikes were aided by poor decision-making on the part of New York. Seattle scored twice in the first half when Greg Sutton’s defenders vacated their posts too early on corners. The third goal occurred when Roger Levesque was poorly marked on another corner. The fourth came from simple brainlessness when Greg Sutton mis-trapped a back pass and Levesque walked the ball into the Red Bull net to put the match out of reach.
Chicago: Frank Klopas will be forced to tweak some minor changes in his starting XI but it’s nothing Fire fans haven’t seen before. A probable line-up could feature Johnson in net, Anibaba-Cuesta-Gibbs-Segares at the back, Nyarko-Paladini-Husidic-Oduro in the midfield with Orr Barouch and Diego Chaves paring up front.
New York: Hans Backe has a difficult verdict to make on Sutton. The Swede could allow the towering keeper to remain in net and see if things revert themselves when Rafa Márquez and Tim Ream return from the Gold Cup or he could reinstate Bouna Coundoul to a starting position. The knock on Coundoul has been his inconsistency, but after the recent performances of his Canadian counterpart, he might actually be the safer option at this point.
Chicago: The Red Bulls are coming to the Windy City after a rather harsh 4-2 beating from the Sounders in their midweek action. Chicago will have to look to capitalize on that and know this is a team they’re able to defeat. With the absence of Cristian Nazarit and possibly Logan Pause, the bench has to step up for the Fire with a mind-set that nothing but three points is acceptable.
New York: The match will be the third in seven days for the Red Bulls, following the two tilts in the Pacific Northwest. Fatigue could be an issue for New York and Backe might have to opt for early substitutions, a route he has rarely utilized while in MLS. John Rooney is one possible replacement for a beleaguered midfield.
David Gubala: Despite a couple notable absences, the Fire manage to pull out a resounding 3-1 win.
Avery Raimondo: Chicago has developed an obstinate defense since Frank Klopas has switched to a managerial role. Therefore, I don't expect a scoring outbreak for the Red Bulls, but a one-nil victory with Joel Lindpere scoring the match's lone goal.
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