Prime Your Fire Pump: Chicago at FC Dallas
OTF’s Jon Denham would like to kick FC Dallas while they are down…
Everything’s bigger in Texas. For the Fire, the three points up for grabs at Toyota Stadium on Saturday are no exception. The Men in Red look to reclaim a spot above the red playoff line against FC Dallas – a team with just two wins since the calendar turned to June and none in the last month. To help bring home those Texas-sized points, Chicago Fire will carry with them the momentum built by Sean Johnson and a three-goal output last weekend against D.C. United.
The teams will each be missing key players due to international absences for World Cup 2014 qualification games. Without full rosters, each side will hope the fill-ins have enough influence on the game to claim the full points.
Chicago is still searching for a more complete 90 minutes where they hold more possession, defend further away from Sean Johnson, and consistently threaten their opponent’s goal.
Here’s what Patrick Nyarko said this week about what the team is trying to do tactically:
“The most important thing is not giving away easy chances for the opponent. If they’re going to get a chance or score, they should earn it in a spectacular way. Just make sure you do whatever is necessary not to give away an easy chance, which all comes down to the fact that you need to be one unit as a team, and move forward and attack as a team and defend and attack and all that as a team, and not getting yourself exposed by leaving gaps in between defenders and midfielders and midfielders and forwards.”
A low-risk approach in the early parts of Saturday’s game seems likely based on those comments from Nyarko, which is par for the course for a Frank Klopas-coached side on the road. With Blas Perez unavailable for the hosts, a diminished attack may make things easier for Sean Johnson, who we hope won’t be as busy this week.
In other club news, Chicago Fire’s tradition, honor, and passion turned 16 this week and the team announced the winner of the third kit design contest at their anniversary party. Freddie Christiano’s black top with one light blue sleeve resembling the Chicago flag prevailed and will debut during next year’s anniversary game. Christiano named his design “Heart on Your Sleeve.”
How They Stand in the East
Another week, and another new position around the playoff line for Chicago Fire Soccer Club. Once again, the team remains on the outside looking in this week after a late Philadelphia goal against Toronto FC catapulted the Union into the coveted fifth place slot.
A much lighter schedule than normal this weekend has Montreal hosting the New England Revolution and D.C. United with another chance to play spoiler at home, this time with the Union at RFK Stadium. Fire Nation should root for both home teams to win.
Montreal still holds a game in hand over the teams fighting for spots in the playoffs. They’ll be caught up after next Wednesday’s trip to play LA Galaxy.
Tactics, Lineup, & Injuries
Arévalo Rios and Joel Lindpere are on international call-ups and unavailable for Frank Klopas this week. Captain Jeff Larentowicz has been in good form while playing multiple spots in the last few contests for the Men in Red. He’ll sit in front of the back line where Rios has been since he arrived in Chicago. I’d like to see Alex play ahead of Larentowicz and underneath Mike Magee and Juan Luis Anangonó. Dilly Duka and Patrick Nyarko provide the width in my preferred XI below.
There’s no reason to believe Klopas will do anything different with the back line.
Sean Johnson’s performance against D.C. United was his best outing of the season. When your goalkeeper is playing well, he can carry a team on his back. If the Milkman can continue to deliver the way he did in D.C. over the next three matches, he could single-handedly take the Fire into the playoffs.
My bench: Tornaghi; Jumper, Pause; Paladini, Santos; Rolfe, Amarikwa
OTF’s Jon Denham grew up about seven miles north of The Harlem End. He now lives in Dubuque, Iowa, and may be its only resident with the MLS Direct Kick package. Jon’s the Sports Information Director and goalkeepers’ coach at Loras College, and writes some other stuff at Inclusive Beechwood Aging.
Chicago Fire vs. FC Dallas
Saturday, October 12 at 7:30pm cst at Toyota Stadium
Television: My50 Chicago and TWCSC Wisconsin
La radio en Español: La Ley 107.9 FM en Chicago