Brian McBride will lead the Chicago Fire vs. FC Dallas in the Brimstone Cup series finale.
B. Kersey/Getty Images

Fire, Hoops battle for Brimstone Cup

CHICAGO FIRE vs. FC DALLAS
TOYOTA PARK, Bridgeview, Ill.
Sept. 21, 2008 | 2 p.m. CT (TeleFutura; My50; FSN-SW)
WEEK # 26 | GAME # 175

Ownership of the Brimstone Cup will again be decided when the Chicago Fire play host to FC Dallas on Sunday at Toyota Park - but more important for each will be the impact on the playoff picture. The Fire come into the week safely in third place in the Eastern Conference, holding the final automatic playoff spot in the division. FC Dallas, however, is three points behind the third-place tie between Chivas USA and Colorado. FC Dallas holds the edge on winning the Brimstone Cup, awarded by the supporters' groups of both teams, for a seventh consecutive season after their 1-0 win against Chicago in June at Pizza Hut Park.

REFEREE: Kevin Stott. SAR (bench): Thomas Supple; JAR (opposite): Kyle Borne; 4th: Fernando Galvan
MLS Career: 160 games; FC/gm: 26.4; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 43; pens: 33

INJURY REPORT: CHICAGO FIRE - OUT: MF Marco Pappa (L knee sprain); DF Dasan Robinson (R hamstring strain); DF C.J. Brown (R shin splints); DOUBTFUL: DF Daniel Woolard (L knee sprain); FW Patrick Nyarko (R knee sprain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Cuauhtémoc Blanco (R hip pointer); PROBABLE: Brian McBride (R ankle sprain); MF Stephen King (L quadriceps sprain) ... FC DALLAS - OUT: DF Duilio Davino (L toe); MF Victor Sikora (R knee); DF Brek Shea (R knee); QUESTIONABLE: FW Kenny Cooper (L ankle)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: CHI: Bakary Soumare (caution accumulation; through Sept. 21)
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: CHI: John Thorrington ... DAL: Pablo Ricchetti, Andre Rocha
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CHI: Diego Gutierrez, Brandon Prideaux, Gonzalo Segares ... DAL: Jeff Cunningham

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (28 meetings): Fire 10 wins (1 shootout), 46 goals ... FC Dallas 16 wins (2 shootout), 52 goals ... Draws 2
AT CHICAGO (14 meetings): Fire 8 wins (1 shootout), 28 goals ... FC Dallas 5 wins (1 shootout), 19 goals ... Draws 1

• This is the second of the two league meetings between the clubs this season for the Brimstone Cup, the only one set for Toyota Park.

• A year ago, FC Dallas once again claimed the season series, winning at Toyota Park before claiming the trophy with a draw at Pizza Hut Park.

• The clubs play for the Brimstone Cup - awarded by the two supporters' clubs of the two teams so named when it matched the Fire and the Burn (the name of the Dallas club until 2004).

• And Dallas has had the upper hand, winning the cup for each of the last six seasons. The Fire won the first series in 2001, the Burn then claiming it in 2002, retaining it in 2003 when the teams leveled the series, then winning both league meetings in 2004. In 2005, the teams split their league meetings, but the FCD won the cup when they won the U.S. Open Cup semifinal matchup, then Dallas took both league meetings in 2006.

• Chicago hasn't won at Dallas since July 4, 1999, when the Fire claimed a 2-1 victory at the Cotton Bowl. FCD then won eight league meetings in a row before playing to a draw last year, and has gone unbeaten at home in three matches in the MLS Cup Playoffs. The only other result gained by the Fire in that time was a 1-1 draw in the playoffs in 2001.

• Coaches record: Schellas Hyndman v CHI: first game ... Denis Hamlett vs. DAL: P1 W0 L1 D0

LAST MEETING (MLS):
6/15: DAL 1, CHI 0 (Cooper 17)

• FC Dallas continued their success against the Chicago Fire at home, taking a 1-0 victory on June 15 at Pizza Hut Park.

• On a broiling hot afternoon in north Texas, the home side took the lead after 17 minutes. Kenny Cooper was set free toward goal after Andre Rocha carved open the Fire defense with a through ball from his own half, and Cooper bent a shot inside the right-hand post from outside the box as goalkeeper Jon Busch flew off his line to cut down the angle.

• It gave FC Dallas their first victory since May 24, while the Fire went down to defeat on the road for the first time this season.

• Here's Marco Ferruzzi's team (3-4-1-2): Dario Sala - Drew Moor, Duilio Davino, Blake Wagner - Andre Rocha, Pablo Ricchetti, Marcelo Saragosa (Dax McCarty 64), Arturo Alvarez (Aaron Pitchkolan 72) - Juan Toja - Kenny Cooper (Abe Thompson 91+), Dominic Oduro. Substitutes Not Used: Eric Avila, Ray Burse, Bobby Rhine, Anthony Wallace

• Here's Hamlett's team (4-4-1-1): Jon Busch - Brian Plotkin, C.J. Brown, Bakary Soumare, Austin Washington (Andy Herron 60) - John Thorrington, Stephen King, Logan Pause, Justin Mapp (Patrick Nyarko 72) - Cuauhtemoc Blanco - Chad Barrett (Tomasz Frankowski 80). Substitutes Not Used: Calen Carr, Peter Lowry, Nick Noble, Daniel Woolard

CHICAGO FIRE


The Chicago Fire have now alternated wins and losses for the last six weeks after the Colorado Rapids hit for two first-half goals on their way to a 2-0 victory Sunday afternoon at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. The Fire have 38 points from 24 matches, now in third place in the Eastern Conference, three points behind the New England Revolution and three ahead of the New York Red Bulls.

LAST MATCH

• The Fire came in sporting the league's best defensive record and just two losses since June 19, while the Rapids had rebounded from four losses in five games with a win at FC Dallas the week before.

• The Rapids gained control of the contest with two goals in seven minutes before the first half was out. In the 30th minute, Jordan Harvey grabbed a diverted free kick to the left of the Chicago goal and tried to drive a cross into the goalmouth. The ball deflected off the hands of goalkeeper Jon Busch and slipped behind him, just crossing the line before a defender could clear for the own goal.

• Omar Cummings then doubled the Rapids lead in the 37th minute, steaming forward on the right side before lashing a low left-footed shot from outside the area past Busch for his fifth goal on the year.

• Fire head coach Denis Hamlett made one change to the team that defeated the New York Red Bulls 1-0 the previous Saturday at Toyota Park. Cuauhtemoc Blanco returned from international duty, coming into the team in place of Mike Banner.

• Here's Hamlett's team (4-4-1-1): Jon Busch - Brandon Prideaux (Justin Mapp 61), Bakary Soumare, Wilman Conde, Diego Gutierrez - John Thorrington, Stephen King (Andy Herron 61), Logan Pause, Chris Rolfe - Cuauhtemoc Blanco - Brian McBride (Tomasz Frankowski 82), Substitutes Not Used: Peter Lowry, Lider Marmol, Nick Noble, Gonzalo Segares

TEAM NEWS

• For the first time in the season, the Fire came out of the game feeling they had let themselves down defensively. They have now allowed a league-fewest 20 goals in 24 matches, eight fewer than the next teams (Houston and San Jose).

• "To be honest, not to take anything away from them, but they didn't beat us today," Chicago 'keeper Jon Busch said. "We beat ourselves. Those two goals normally don't happen. The worst thing, we should have come out of here 0-0. It was just poor goalkeeping on my part."

• Said Hamlett: "Jon Busch has bailed us out many games. There's no finger pointing. He's a guy we're behind 100 percent, and he knows he could have done better than that. We move on. He's having a great season and he's a very good goalie. Those things happen. If we could have just kept it 1-0, we could have had a little better chance to regroup the second half. But we didn't, and you just move forward."

• Down two goals, the Fire did a better job after the break. All but one of Chicago's 11 shots came in the second half, including all three shots on goal, all from 61st-minute substitution Andy Herron. But it was still a fourth offensive shutout in eight games.

• "We have to do the things we talked about prior to the game, which is get the ball on the ground, move the ball, play quick, attack the flanks in a big wide field, get balls in the box and get balls behind them," Hamlett said. "We were able to do that. We were just a little unfortunate that we couldn't get that one goal. We had many good chances. Andy had a few. Brian had a few. We had some good looks, but we just couldn't get that first goal to really make it a game."

• The Dallas match will be the first of back-to-back home games for the Fire, who finish with four of their final six games at Toyota Park, including meetings with Columbus and New York.

• "Obviously it is not just creating chances it is finishing them. I think that we looked a lot better in the second half. We just need to keep working and keep our heads up. We still have a lot of games left and we are not finished yet," Herron said. "Columbus got the tie in Toronto but they are still there and not far away from us. We need to step up at the next game at home and get those three points and see what happens,"

FC DALLAS


FC Dallas put an end to their two-game losing skid but still saw their winless streak extended, coming back for a late equalizer after D.C. United rebounded from an early deficit, the teams ending in a 2-2 draw on Saturday evening at RFK Stadium. FC Dallas have 27 points from 24 matches, now alone in sixth place in the Western Conference, a point ahead of the Los Angeles Galaxy and two points behind the San Jose Earthquakes.

LAST MATCH

• United were trying to get back to their winning ways, with just one win in their last four games and without back-to-back wins for more than two months. FC Dallas were on a four-game winless run, following back-to-back victories.

• The visitors took the lead after just nine minutes. A long ball forward deflected off a United defender, finding Kenny Cooper on the edge of the box. With his back to goal, he spun his defender and hammered a wicked blast that flew high into the goal for his 14th goal on the season, ending a four-game goalless skein.

• United pulled level in the 26th minute. South African forward Thabiso Khumalo, signed just the day before, flighted in a soft cross from the right and Jaime Moreno rose up to head home for his 10th goal of the season and the 122nd of his remarkable MLS career.

• The home side then pulled level in the 69th minute. Ivan Guerrero played in a cross from the left flank that sailed over the goalmouth and found Santino Quaranta, who gleefully thumped home a half-volley inside the near post for his fifth goal of the year.

• But the Hoops hit for the equalizer just 10 minutes later. Eric Avila got to the byeline on the left and pulled back a rolling cross toward the penalty spot, where Andre Rocha stepped forward to stroke home his second goal on the season.

• FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman made three changes to the team that lost 1-0 to Colorado at home the previous weekend. Adrian Serioux came back from international duty for the suspended Drew Moor at right back, and Andre Rocha and Dax McCarty returned to their midfield roles, in place of Michael Dello-Russo and Anthony Wallace.

• Here's Hyndman's team (4-3-1-2): Dario Sala - Adrian Serioux (Michael Dello-Russo 36), Aaron Pitchkolan, Pablo Ricchetti, Blake Wagner - Andre Rocha, Marcelo Saragosa, Dax McCarty (Eric Avila 72) - Bruno Guarda - Kenny Cooper (Dominic Oduro 56), Jeff Cunningham. Substitutes Not Used: Ray Burse, Andrew Daniels, Anthony Wallace, Jamie Watson

TEAM NEWS

• FC Dallas have scored first in four of their last five games, but have just two draws to show for it. But, coming back with the late equalizer after D.C. United overcame the early deficit was a positive.

• "We just need to do a little better job protecting it (the lead) but today was really a little bit about character," said Hyndman. "Normally when we go down, we don't come back; they drop their heads, drop the effort and this is what we keep talking about. It's attitude. I was really proud of the boys how they fought all the way until the end."

• After not playing at all against the Rapids at home, Andre Rocha came back into the team and hit for the game-winner, his second goal since coming to MLS, both in the last four weeks.

• "We have not put our full team out there because we continue to have injuries. In training players, we are trying to get flank play. But what I saw today from Andre Rocha, he has been having kind of an up and down time with me the past month. Today was one of his best games," Hyndman said.

• As FC Dallas heads down the stretch, Hyndman would like to see his team break more on the counterattack.

• "If you look back at D.C. United's game, they possessed the ball better but they didn't beat us in the midfield. They beat us on the flanks. One of the reasons they didn't beat us in the midfield was because Bruno (Guarda) and (Marcelo) Saragosa owned the midfield because of their hard work, energy and working.," Hyndman said. "Now what we've got to do is be a little bit better defending as a group. We're getting there. It's taken me four to four and a half weeks to get Andre to buy into it and I thought he had a good game."

• After the trip to Chicago to face the Fire this weekend, the Hoops have three consecutive home games against D.C. United, San Jose and Toronto. Hyndman is hoping to use all of his opportunities in training to work on counters, where he says both goals came from at RFK.

• "We have a lot of quality in the midfield. We have not only guys who can play well defensively but guys who can play a killer pass too," said Cooper. "Andre Rocha is like a quarterback so guys up front like Dom (Dominic Oduro) and Jeff who have so much speed so we can look for him to thread us through. The midfielders played some great balls tonight and we had some great opportunities."