Preview: Whitecaps FC host Chicago Fire

'Caps look to continue hot streak against Fire on Sunday

VANCOUVER, BC –  Looking to build on their five-match unbeaten run, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (8W-5L-5D) now turn their attention to welcoming Chicago Fire (6W-8L-3D) to BC Place this coming Sunday, July 14. This will be the first ever time that the Fire visit BC Place and the only meeting between the two sides this season.

Sunday's match between Whitecaps FC and Chicago Fire kicks off at 4 p.m. PT and is live on Sportsnet Pacific and Bell mobile devices. 'Caps fans can also listen to Sunday night’s match live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 2 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match. Tim Hortons is the official sponsor of Sunday's match. 

More than halfway through the MLS campaign, Vancouver remain one of only two undefeated teams at home along with FC Dallas. Through nine MLS matches, the ‘Caps are 6W-0L-3D in front of their fans, and 7W-0L-4D in all competitions including the two Amway Canadian Championship contests.

WHITECAPS FC

The ‘Caps are coming off of a historic 2-0 win over Seattle Sounders FC last Saturday. The victory was the Blue and White’s first win over a Cascadia opponent since joining MLS. A brilliant fourth minute goal from Kenny Miller and a late tally from substitute Darren Mattocks provided the scoring, while a brilliant performance in net by Brad Knighton preserved the shutout. Knighton’s pivotal role earned him MLS Player of the Week – the third time in the past four weeks that a Whitecaps FC player has received the honour.

Last Match: Whitecaps FC 2-0 Sounders FC

Heading into this pivotal weekend, the ‘Caps are currently fifth in the tightly contested Western Conference, with 29 points from 18 games played. With the four teams above them, (Real Salt Lake, FC Dallas, Los Angeles Galaxy and Portland Timbers) all playing each other this weekend, Vancouver could move into second place with a win over Chicago and some favourable results from the other fixtures (Real Salt Lake plays FC Dallas, Portland hosts LA Galaxy).

Martin Rennie’s side will miss Simon Thomas, Russell Teibert, and Carlyle Mitchell all due to international duty, as all three players are with their respective national teams at the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup. The home side will also continue to miss captain Jay DeMerit (ruptured Achilles tendon) and winger Omar Salgado (foot fracture) indefinitely. Centre back Andy O’Brien (hamstring strain) and winger Erik Hurtado (left foot sprain) are both listed as questionable for Sunday.

CHICAGO FIRE  

Last match: Chicago Fire 1-2 Sporting Kansas City

Heading into their tilt with the ‘Caps, Chicago have lost just once in their past 10 MLS matches. However, that one loss came in their last match – a 2-1 home defeat versus Sporting Kansas City.

Striker Mike Magee bagged the lone goal for Chicago against SKC – his fifth in six MLS matches since joining the Fire from LA Galaxy, and his eighth in nine matches including three goals in three Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup affairs. The in-form attacker has scored in all but one match since returning home to Chicago. In fact, the loss to SKC was the team’s first since Magee came on board.

On Wednesday night, the Fire also hosted a friendly against Mexican powerhouse Club América, falling 3-2 at Toyota Park.

Chicago are currently in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, with 21 points from 17 matches; five points behind Houston Dynamo for an elusive playoff spot.

The Fire will be without the services of Logan Pause (SI dysfunction) and Steven Kinney (quad strain). Frank Klopas will also be missing his first choice goalkeeper, Sean Johnson, who is representing the United States at the Gold Cup. 

HEAD-TO-HEAD

July 14, 2012: Chicago Fire 1-0 Whitecaps FC

In the three previous games played between the ‘Caps and the Fire in MLS, Vancouver hold a record of 1W-1L-1D. The last match between the two clubs will have been exactly one year ago to the day, on July 14, 2012. The 'Caps were narrowly defeated 1-0 in the Windy City on a free kick goal from former Mexican international Pavel Pardo.

Last season’s loss in Chicago was the first time Vancouver had been defeated by the Fire after the ‘Caps earned a 0-0 draw on the road and 4-2 victory at Empire Stadium in 2011.

A pair of Whitecaps FC players have set personal milestones versus the Fire: Gershon Koffie recorded his first ever MLS goal during Whitecaps FC’s 4-2 home win over Chicago Fire on August 7, 2011, and Brad Knighton earned the first shutout of his MLS career in a 1-0 victory over Chicago on September 11, 2010, when he was a member of Philadelphia Union.    

Sunday’s match will be a battle between two of the top goalscorers in MLS. Magee is currently tied for the league lead with 11 goals, while Camilo is just behind with 10 so far this season.

In terms of player connections, Chicago midfielder Daniel Paladini played two seasons from 2009 to 2010 under Whitecaps’ head coach Martin Rennie while they were both with Carolina Railhawks and was teammates with Jun Marques Davidson, Tommy Heinemann, Brad Rusin and Matt Watson. Additionally, Knighton played with Fire midfielders Jeff Larentowicz and Wells Thompson at New England Revolution, while Heinemann spent last season with Dilly Duka and Shaun Francis at Columbus Crew.

NEXT UP

Next up for the boys after facing the Fire is a trip to Southern California to face the Robbie  Keane led Los Angeles Galaxy at the StubHub Center on Saturday, July 20. That match is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.