Preview: East foes NY, Chicago meet in dire need of wins

New York Red Bulls vs. Chicago Fire

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images/MLSsoccer.com

RED BULL ARENA, Harrison, N.J.
7:30 p.m. ET (MSG; My50 Chi.)
August 13, 2011 (WEEK 22; MLS Game 215)

A pair of teams in real need of a victory meet on Saturday evening at Red Bull Arena when the New York Red Bulls play host to the Chicago Fire. The Red Bulls are in the throes of a five-game winless skid, coming off a 3-0 defeat by Real Salt Lake on the road last weekend. The Fire are winless in eight games in a row, after their 4-2 loss at Vancouver Whitecaps FC last Sunday.

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REFEREE: Jair Marrufo. SAR (bench): C.J. Morgante; JAR (opposite): Corey Rockwell; 4th: Fotis Bazakos
MLS Career: 118 games; FC/gm: 24.7; Y/gm: 3.2; R: 29; pens: 40

INJURY REPORT: NEW YORK RED BULLS — OUT: FW Luke Rodgers (plantar fasciitis); MF Carl Robinson (R knee contusion); GK Frank Rost (R quadriceps tear); QUESTIONABLE: DF Jan Gunnar Solli (R quadriceps strain) ... CHICAGO FIRE — OUT: DF Mike Banner (R knee meniscectomy); MF Marko Maric (L posterior capsulitis); DF Steven Kinney (L groin strain); QUESTIONABLE: DF Cory Gibbs (L groin strain); FW Diego Chaves (R knee pain); FW Gabriel Ferrari (R ankle sprain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: NY: Dane Richards, Luke Rodgers ... CHI: Diego Chaves, Cory Gibbs, Dominic Oduro, Gonzalo Segares
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: NY: Mehdi Ballouchy, Rafa Marquez, Carlos Mendes, Roy Miller... CHI: Dan Gargan, Cristian Nazarit, Daniel Paladini

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (39 meetings): Red Bulls 11 wins, 44 goals ... Fire 20 wins, 61 goals ... Ties 8
AT NEW YORK (19 meetings): Red Bulls 3 wins, 17 goals ... Fire 11 wins, 33 goals ... Ties 5

  • The teams played to a 1-1 draw in their first meeting this season, June 26 at Toyota Park.
  • The Red Bulls' home win last March 27 snapped a five-game losing streak against the Fire for New York. The Red Bulls last previous victory had come Sept. 1, 2007, a 1-0 win at Giants Stadium.
  • The last victory by the New York club in Chicago came May 14, 2005, a 3-0 win at Soldier Field (0-5-2 since). The Fire have never lost to the Red Bulls at Toyota Park, winning five of the eight meetings there all-time (with three draws).
  • Coaches record: Hans Backe v CHI: P3 W1 L0 D2 ... Frank Klopas vs. NY: P1 W0 L0 D1

LAST MEETING
6/26: CHI 1, NY 1 (Pappa 58 — Lindpere 18)

  • The Red Bulls took the lead with an opportunistic goal five minutes before the halftime whistle. Yamith Cuesta couldn't clear at the top of the 18, hitting the ball right in the path of Joel Lindpere, who collected and calmly slotted his shot past an onrushing Sean Johnson.
  • But Marco Pappa equalized for the home side in the 58th minute on a speculative shot from 30 yards, bouncing a left-footed effort toward the far post. New York goalkeeper Bouna Coundoul got to the ball in plenty of time, but missed on his attempted parry and the ball trickled into the net.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-4-2): Sean Johnson - Jalil Anibaba, Cory Gibbs, Yamith Cuesta, Gonzalo Segares - Marco Pappa (Gabriel Ferrari 82), Daniel Paladini, Baggio Husidic (Corben Bone 69), Patrick Nyarko - Dominic Oduro, Orr Barouch (Diego Chaves 58).
  • NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-1-3-2): Bouna Coundoul - Jan Gunnar Solli, Carlos Mendes, Stephen Keel, Roy Miller - Teemu Tainio - Dane Richards, Joel Lindpere, Mehdi Ballouchy (Austin da Luz 84) - Dwayne De Rosario (Mike Jones 93+), Thierry Henry.

NEW YORK RED BULLS

The New York Red Bulls saw their league winless skid reach five games, falling 3-0 to Real Salt Lake on Saturday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium. The Red Bulls have 30 points from 24 games, now in a tie for third place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • Real took the lead in the 13th minute, a Kyle Beckerman corner kick found the head of defender Nat Borchers, who nodded his shot past New York goalkeeper Frank Rost.
  • Then in the 44th minute, Beckerman intercepted a clearance from defender Rafa Márquez laid the ball back to Luis Gil, who blasted a shot past Rost from outside the area.
  • RSL completed the comprehensive victory in the 77th minute when Roy Miller was whistled for a handball in the penalty area on a corner kick. Álvaro Saborio stepped up and put away the resulting spot kick.
  • Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe made one change to the team that played to a 2-2 draw with FC Dallas at Red Bull Arena. Chris Albright came into the team for the suspended Dane Richards.
  • NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-4-2): Frank Rost (Bouna Coundoul 46) - Chris Albright, Tim Ream, Rafael Marquez, Roy Miller - Jan Gunnar Solli (John Rooney 69), Dax McCarty (Stephen Keel 46), Mehdi Ballouchy, Joel Lindpere - Thierry Henry, Juan Agudelo.

TEAM NEWS

  • Since the start of May, the Red Bulls have won just twice in 17 league games (2-5-10), they are winless in five league games.
  • "We had a very weak performance today, I must say. I don't think I've seen us that weak before in one-and-a-half years. No energy, a number of unforced errors," said Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe.
  • The Red Bulls have conceded 12 goals of their 33 allowed on the season directly from set pieces, one in each of their last two matches.
  • "Conceding goals ... once again, a goal from a set play. We know very well what kind of run Borchers does. It's sloppy, it's very very sloppy," Backe said. "We just need to change things if we're going to reach the playoffs."
  • Recent acquisition Frank Rost had to come off at halftime, suffering a thigh injury. Rost had conceded eight goals in the previous 225 minutes in MLS play before Bouna Coundoul came on in his place.
  • "That is a strange one because I think Rost injured his hip or quadriceps so he couldn't go for the ball," Backe said of RSL's second goal. "It looked very strange."
  • Coundoul will be expected to return between the posts for the Chicago match; his last league start came July 2 vs. San Jose. He was called into the Senegal national team for its match against Morocco in Dakar.
  • Chris Albright made his first league start of the season for New York, coming in at right back with Jan Gunnar Solli moved forward into a wide midfield spot.
  • "I think I'm still getting to match fitness, but it's tough to say how I felt out there," Albright said. "We weren't very good tonight overall, so I could have been better along with the rest of us."
  • Luke Rodgers missed a fourth consecutive match with his heel injury, one that Backe said could require surgery which would put an end to his season.
  • "Luke is still a question mark," Backe told The New York Post. "I don't know how much time it takes, but I would say in a couple of weeks, 10 days, we just need to take a decision if we should gamble and see how he can perform with this injury. Otherwise he will be out probably for the rest of the season, because he's been out for so long."

CHICAGO FIRE

The Chicago Fire had their winless streak stretched to eight games, going down to a 4-2 defeat by Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Sunday afternoon at Empire Field. The Fire have 19 points from 22 matches on the year, sitting in ninth place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • Whitecaps FC and Hassli opened the scoring after just 33 minutes, after Yamith Cuesta failed to deal with a bouncing ball hit up the field and Hassli made no mistake as his rocket of a shot found the top right corner.
  • Dominic Oduro was the beneficiary of a nice touch from newly acquired midfielder Sebastian Grazzini and fired past goalkeeper Jay Nolly from close range to bring the Fire level in the 23rd minute, but Gershon Koffie bounced a long-range effort past Sean Johnson not a minute later to put Vancouver back in front.
  • Just before the break, Whitecaps FC missed a glorious chance to add to the lead when Hassli saw a penalty saved by Johnson, but Camilo did make it 3-1 three minutes into the half when turned his marker before slotting a low hard shot into the corner.
  • Hassli added his second of the match in the 72nd minute, scoring on the second effort from a free kick after initially hitting the post. Orr Barouch added a consolation goal in the 80th minute with a smart finish past Nolly's right.
  • Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas made one change to the team that reached a 1-1 draw with Philadelphia Union at Toyota Park. Yamith Cuesta came in at center back for the injured Cory Gibbs.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-4-1-1): Sean Johnson - Logan Pause, Josip Mikulic, Yamith Cuesta, Gonzalo Segares - Marco Pappa (Cristian Nazarit 56), Pavel Pardo, Daniel Paladini (Baggio Husidic 70), Patrick Nyarko - Sebastian Grazzini (Orr Barouch 56) - Dominic Oduro.

TEAM NEWS

  • Since the start of the season, the Fire have won just twice in 22 league games (2-7-13); they are winless in their eight MLS contests.
  • "This past game, it was a real big punch on our expectations," said Fire defender Gonzalo Segares. "We keep letting opportunities slip by and we're getting less and less chances to climb up that ladder. We've got to turn this around quickly because pretty soon we're going to run out of chances to get to the playoffs and we're going to see ourselves just like last year."
  • Sebastian Grazzini recorded his first MLS assist in his second league game, setting Dominic Oduro's team-leading sixth goal of the season in the 4-2 loss at Vancouver.
  • Klopas started Dominic Oduro as a lone striker, but that changed in the 56th minute when he removed Grazzini and Marco Pappa, bringing on strikers Cristian Nazarit and Orr Barouch and moving Oduro to a wide midfield spot.
  • "We put more forwards on and brought Oduro out wide to push the game and create space. I felt that they were tired, they didn't create enough opportunities," Klopas said. "Grazzini, I thought on the first goal he did well, but then it's his second game and playing on turf and travelling. I felt that he looked tired to me."
  • Despite playing for the second time with the team in just four days, Pavel Pardo again played the full 90 minutes in the center of the midfield.
  • "He sits deep and he gets the ball. I think he's a perfect guy that connects the midfield. He's very experienced and he makes a big difference," Klopas said. "He's at a different fitness level coming in than Sebastian is. The first half I felt when he was fresh, we had some very good moments."
  • The four goals matched the season-high allowed by the Fire, with the other occasion also in the Pacific Northwest — a 4-2 loss at Portland on April 19.
  •  "Defensively it wasn't collectively out best game, including myself and the guys included," said goalkeeper Sean Johnson. "But we have to look forward, we have 12 games left to try and make something happen and we look at it as there is 36 points left out there to be had and we have to go out with the mindset that we are going to get all 36 and make the playoffs."