Aiming to put an end to a two-game goalless slide, the Chicago Fire play host to Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday evening at Toyota Park. The Fire saw their four-game undefeated run snapped last weekend, a 2-0 loss to the LA Galaxy. Whitecaps FC conclude their long road swing with the Chicago match after falling 3-2 in stoppage time in midweek at Toronto FC.
REFEREE: Jose Carlos Rivero. SAR (bench): Adam Wienckowski; JAR (opposite): Peter Manikowski; 4th: Abbey Okulaja
CHICAGO FIRE – OUT: DF Cory Gibbs (R knee meniscus repair); MF Steven Kinney (R Achilles tendinitis)
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC – OUT: FW Atiba Harris (R knee surgery recovery); FW Omar Salgado (R foot fracture); DOUBTFUL: MF John Thorrington (R quad strain); MF Matt Watson (R ankle sprain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: CHI: Marco Pappa… VAN: Martin Bonjour, Gershon Koffie, Alain Rochat
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CHI: Dan Gargan, Sebastian Grazzini, Pavel Pardo, Gonzalo Segares
ALL-TIME (2 meetings): Fire 0 wins, 2 goals … Whitecaps FC 1 win, 4 goals … Ties 1
AT CHICAGO (1 meetings): Fire 0 wins, 0 goals … Whitecaps FC 0 wins, 0 goals … Ties 1
LAST YEAR (MLS):
5/7: CHI 0, VAN 0
8/7: VAN 4, CHI 2 (Hassli 1, 72; Koffie 24; Camilo 48 – Oduro 23; Barouch 80)
• The teams played to a scoreless draw in their first meeting last year, May 7 at Toyota Park, before Whitecaps FC claimed a 4-2 win in the meeting in Vancouver.
• Coaches record: Frank Klopas vs. VAN: P1 W0 L1 D1 … Martin Rennie v CHI: first game
The Chicago Fire saw their undefeated run come to an end after four games, falling 2-0 to the LA Galaxy on Sunday afternoon at Toyota Park. The Fire are in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with 28 points from 18 games.
HIGHLIGHTS: CHI 0, LA 2
• The Galaxy took the lead in the 22nd minute. A cross struck defender Jalil Anibaba in the arm on the edge of the box, and referee Jair Marrufo pointed to the penalty spot. Robbie Keane calmly slotted home the spot kick to the right, sending goalkeeper Sean Johnson diving the opposite direction.
• In the 78th minute, LA made it 2-0. Landon Donovan broke forward on the counter and served a breakaway pass to Keane, and the Irish international beat Johnson at the near post to put the game out of reach.
• Fire head coach Frank Klopas made one change to the team that played to a scoreless draw with the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium. Arne Friedrich came into the back four for Dan Gargan.
• CHICAGO FIRE (4-2-3-1): Sean Johnson - Jalil Anibaba, Arne Friedrich, Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares - Logan Pause (Alex 46), Pavel Pardo - Patrick Nyarko, Chris Rolfe (Orr Barouch 79), Marco Pappa - Dominic Oduro (Rafael Robayo 67).
• The Fire have been shut out in back-to-back games for the first time this season.
• “[Galaxy head coach] Bruce [Arena] knows how we play and how we’re dangerous, we get it out to the backs to Pável [Pardo] and Logan [Pause] and the wingers or the forwards,” midfielder Patrick Nyarko said. “They were pressuring our backs and our midfielders hard. If it came into them, they try to force a turnover, and I think they did that extremely well. The only option we had was to hit long balls. … We weren’t going to win that kind of game.”
• It was a third consecutive game with Sebastián Grazzini not figuring into the team, his place in the attacking midfield role taken by Chris Rolfe. The Fire have scored one goal in those three games.
• “We play the same way,” Chicago head coach Frank Klopas said. “Alex is an attacking midfielder, [Chris] Rolfe is an attacking midfielder, we have [Rafael] Robayo that is very good with the ball, very good going forward. We have players that can create. With every player, you gain a little bit in one area, you might lose a little bit here, and gain a little bit there.”
• Said Rolfe: “I’m probably most comfortable playing as a second forward. But I think given some more opportunities to play that position where Grazzini was I think I could feel it out a little more. Obviously, as you saw today, I’m still in that process of kind of sorting through that.”
• Alex had his longest stint in three appearances since becoming eligible, coming on at halftime for Logan Pause.
• “It’s been a whole lot of games playing with [Grazzini], and we really got used to him, I’m not going to lie,” said Nyarko. “ … I think Alex is that kind of player. Given more time to settle in, I think he will bring back that specialness that Sebastián brought to this team.”
• The introduction of Alex also brought a change in tactics for the second half, with the Fire returning to a twin-striker approach.
• “When we started the game, Rolfe starts underneath and he can connect with the forward so we are a little more solid in the middle,” said Klopas. “In the second half, we brought in Alex. Logan [Pause] works his butt off to make sure that he can win a lot of balls. We brought Alex in and pushed Rolfe higher to push the game because we didn’t feel a threat of them to get behind.”
• After missing the Houston match following his first start in two months, center back Arne Friedrich returned to the Fire back four.
• “I played 90 minutes and it felt good. No pain anymore. Now I have to work on rhythm and speed. Today I am sad because of the loss,” Friedrich said.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
Vancouver Whitecaps FC saw their brief two-game unbeaten run ended in cruel fashion as Toronto FC scored a late winner for a 3-2 victory Wednesday at BMO Field. Whitecaps FC are in a tie for third place in the Western Conference with 30 points from 19 games.
HIGHLIGHTS: TOR 3, VAN 2
• Vancouver took the lead in the 50th minute when Darren Mattocks broke free to the right of the goal and forced a save from TFC 'keeper Milos Kocic. But with Kocic and defender Logan Emory still down, Mattocks recovered the ball and slipped it into the far corner from a tight angle.
• TFC tied it up in the 68th minute when Luis Silva got a foot down to redirect Ashtone Morgan’s cross from the left into the far corner of the net.
• The home side then took the lead four minutes later. Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Joe Cannon parried a cross from the left and it came all the way out to Torsten Frings, who drove home a low shot from outside the area through traffic and past Cannon.
• But Mattocks and Vancouver hit for a second to level terms just as the 90 minutes ticked over to stoppage time. A lofted cross was sent in by Jordan Harvey and after Kocic missed a punch, Mattocks hung in the air to nod the ball home.
• Yet with almost the final touch in stoppage time, Terry Dunfield found himself in the center of the box and headed home a corner from Frings for the game-winner.
• Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie made two changes to the team that reached a scoreless draw with Chivas USA at The Home Depot Center. Camilo and Darren Mattocks came into the team for Davide Chiumiento and Eric Hassli.
• VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC (4-2-3-1): Joe Cannon - Lee Young-Pyo, Jay DeMerit, Martin Bonjour, Jordan Harvey - Gershon Koffie, Alain Rochat - Sebastien Le Toux, Barry Robson, Camilo (Michael Nanchoff 82) - Darren Mattocks.
• Whitecaps FC have lost five league games all season and have allowed at least three goals in each of the defeats. They have allowed 22 goals on the season; 16 have come in the five losses.
• “It’s hard to lose any game and thankfully we haven’t lost too many this season, but it always hurts when you do lose so late in the game after equalizing so late in the game,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie. “ … We were winning and fairly comfortable but to come out of that game losing three goals leaves me scratching my head. It is something we are going to have to bounce back from.”
• Rookie Darren Mattocks has now scored each of the last three goals Whitecaps FC have netted. He has six goals on the season; the all-time MLS rookie record is 11, scored by the Fire’s Damani Ralph in 2003.
• “He is a fantastic young player and he can be a star if he keeps working hard. He has that finishing touch with that pace and movement,”said Rennie. “There are teams that fear playing against him and I think he is going to be an excellent player. We were all wide-eyed and amazed at just how high he got for his second goal.”
• Said defender Jay DeMerit: “Darren is showing week in week out that he is a quality player and he’s got an amazing future but now it is up to him to keep that consistent every game.”
• Alain Rochat and Gershon Koffie again comprised the deep-lying midfield axis with Mattocks run out as the lone striker at the top of the attack.
• “It’s hard. It’s something totally different. When you play on the left, you know your left side is closed, so you only have to focus on just one side. In the middle, they come from everywhere, so you constantly have to turn your head,” Rochat said. “… We have a good communication together. We try as much as possible to help each other. It’s the heart of the team, so you have to find the right balance between the defense and the offense, and the more we play together the more we can find and improve this balance.”
• Three of the last seven goals allowed by Whitecaps FC have come from corner kicks, after allowing just one of their first 15 goals this season from set pieces.
• “It is very frustrating and something we are not happy about – we are very disappointed in terms of not doing better defending, not only that set play [winner], but other set plays during the game,” Rennie said.
• Before the match, Whitecaps FC announced the transfer of midfielder Davide Chiumiento to Swiss Super League side FC Zürich.
• “He has family back in Switzerland and he does miss them. He has the opportunity to go to a big club in FC Zürich who compete in the Champions League and win the Swiss league and it is very hard to stand in someone’s way when they get that chance to play there,” said Rennie.