Weary Fire travel to Rochester for US Open Cup clash
The Chicago Fire have two teams competing in the US Open Cup third round Tuesday night, with the first team playing at the USL-Pro division Rochester Rhinos (7:30 pm ET, watch online) and the PDL side taking on Sporting Kansas City at Livestrong Sporting Park (8:30 pm ET).
The PDL side should be relatively rested, having not played since Friday. The same can’t be said about the first team, who tied New York 1-1 on Sunday at Toyota Park and then traveled to Rochester on Monday morning.
The quick turnaround will force interim head coach Frank Klopas into some lineup changes, one of which will come at forward. Klopas told MLSsoccer.com Monday that striker Cristian Nazarit (pictured above), who was suspended for the Fire’s last two matches, will return to action against the Rhinos.
“He’s fresh and he didn’t play so he will be out there,” Klopas said.
“We got to assess how everybody’s feeling,” he added. “We got to make good decisions and put a group on the field that’s going to win the game for us. ... This is an important game and this tournament’s very important to us. Whoever goes out there knows what the goals and objectives are and they’ll be ready.”
Klopas also said that winger Marco Pappa might not play on Tuesday. The Guatemalan attacker, who just returned from CONCACAF Gold Cup duty last week, picked up a knee injury in the second half of Sunday’s match and could be kept out of Tuesday’s clash.
“He did pick up a knock,” Klopas said. “He hit knee-to-knee with one of their defenders and he had a very bruised patella and it might be difficult [for him to play], especially because it’ll be on turf.”
While Pappa’s status is uncertain, the Fire already know that they’ll be without left back Gonzalo Segares. The Costa Rican, who has captained the Fire during Logan Pause’s recent injury absence, picked up a red card in Chicago’s last Open Cup game and is suspended for Tuesday’s match. Candidates to replace him at left back include Bratislav Ristic and Pari Pantazopolous.
Segares’ absence would hurt more if he played on the right flank — a place Chicago figure to be challenged on Tuesday night. Rochester will look to generate most of their offense on their left side — Chicago’s right — and whoever plays right back will need to be on his game.
“They play a 4-2-3-1 and go pretty directly,” Klopas said. “They have a lone striker who’s pretty good in the air and they look to attack mostly on the left side and look to get balls to the back post to find [the striker].
“But they’re mostly a left sided attacking team, they sit with two holding guys and rarely do they get forward. They like to defend with six and have the four players get forward mostly in the free roles to try and attack and create stuff.”
Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.