The Fire will try to snap their five-game winless streak at home against struggling Vancouver.
Vancouver Whitecaps: Shea Salinas. After being the Whitecaps best player in the preseason Salinas suffered an injury setback while juggling during practice just before the season kicked off. He is only just getting back to full health and the Whitecaps couldn’t be happier. Coach Teitur Thordarson’s tactics depend mostly on speedy skilled wingers pushing the ball forward quickly. Wes Knight has been filling in on the right side of the midfield but he is still learning the MLS game and his lack of finishing has put undue pressure on the left side of the midfield to be creative. The return of the ‘Shea Hey Kid’ rounds out the Caps attack and spreads out the opposing defense.
Chicago Fire: Marco Pappa has arguably been the most consistent player on the field for the Fire this season. He leads the team in shots, shots on goal, and has a couple of goals as well. Pappa wore the captain's armband for the first time last week against Colorado and deservedly so. With the Fire being in the position that it is, Pappa is doing well for himself as a leader on and off the pitch.
Vancouver: For a team whose strength was supposed to be its defense, the Whitecaps have been very leaky. They have had one MLS shutout this year and if they plan on ever having success, that number needs start rising fast. Injuries have been a major problem as the back four haven’t had time to develop an understanding. Add to that captain Jay DeMerit not being healthy again for at least two weeks and the current crop of healthy defenders need to pull together, now.
Chicago: The main struggle for the men in Red this season has been lack of consistency in their lineup, which has put the Fire in a very uncomfortable position. The starting goalkeeping spot is continuously up for grabs and Logan Pause, Cory Gibbs, Mike Videira, Marko Maric, and Josip Mikulic are all out via injury.
Vancouver: The Teitur 4-4-2 will be in full effect and with Shea Salinas in the lineup, you can expect him and Davide Chiumiento to be pushing up the wings. Alain Rochat refuses to be left out of the fun and when Chiumiento drifts inside behind the strikers, Rochat will provide the width far left.
Chicago: Carlos de los Cobos always has a plan B no matter what the scenario. With big name players out, de los Cobos revealed that he favors a three-man midfield. It was something the Fire switched to in the second half in their meeting with the Rapids. Against Vancouver, we could see Daniel Paladini, Corben Bone, and Gaston Puerari all featuring in the midfield. Diego Chaves could play up front as the lone striker, but that remains to be seen.
Vancouver: The Whitecaps completed their CONCACAF Canadian Championship first round match at home versus the Montreal Impact Wednesday night with a 1-1 tie, good enough for a 2-1 victory over two legs. The Whitecaps fielded a very strong team, yet needed a goal deep into the second extra period to seal a victory. In the midst of a very busy schedule, the last thing the Whitecaps needed was an extra 30 minutes of playing time. That extra wear and tear and the fact that the Whitecaps' best team couldn’t beat a NASL team in the first 90 minutes should make the Chicago Fire feel a win at home is in the cards
Chicago: In hopes of adding much needed offensive firepower, the club signed Colombian striker Cristian Nazarit. He brings pretty impressive goal-scoring stats to the Windy City and will be available for selection Saturday. There are rumors that Sean Johnson could return in goal for the Fire. The Men in Red will feature a revamped line up on Saturday due to the high number of injuries that struck the team, but will surely show no mercy against the Whitecaps as a lot of players are still battling for starting spots.
Trevor Leach: The Whitecaps have lost every MLS road game this year being outscored 6-2 and they couldn’t beat a NASL team in 90 minutes at home. Chicago isn’t stellar at home either (1-1-1) and hasn’t won in 5 games. Whichever team can overcome its struggles will win this but after sitting through their CONCACAF game Wednesday night, I can't see them beating the Fire. 2-0 Chicago
David Gubala: The Fire will put their five-game winless streak behind them and overcome the Whitecaps with a 2-1 victory, with goals coming from Marco Pappa and Diego Chaves.
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