For Fire, stopping Cummings is key to beating Rapids

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — The Chicago Fire will be keeping a very close eye on Colorado forward Omar Cummings when the Rapids visit Toyota Park on Saturday (8:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).

Cummings always seems to have success against the Fire. In five career games against Chicago, the Jamaican striker has scored five goals and dished out one assist, feeding fellow forward Andre Akpan for Colorado’s lone goal in a 1-1 draw on April 30.

The Fire will attempt to mark Cummings tightly throughout Saturday night’s match in hopes of keeping the speedy striker from running at defenders or hitting shots from long range.

“Cummings has given us problems in the past because when he drops into pockets in the middle to receive the ball, we [don’t] step with him,” Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “In the past, when we didn’t do that, when our center backs didn’t stay tight, he had the ability and the quality to hurt you.”

Of course, Cummings isn’t Colorado’s only threat. Lightning-quick winger Sanna Nyassi has exploded onto the scene recently with four goals and two assists in the Rapids’ last six matches.

“They’re two players — especially Nyassi — that are in great form and scoring a lot of goals,” Fire captain Logan Pause said. “They’re just so dynamic and such a threat with their speed. They’re definitely two guys we’re highlighting and want to keep our eyes on.”

Nyassi and Cummings will undoubtedly break free at least once or twice on Saturday night; when that happens, the Fire must rely on good one-on-one defending and solid positioning to slow the fast attackers down.

“With players like that, you’ve got to be able at times to defend 1-v-1,” Klopas said. “And at other times, you need to have other players around you to be in positions, zones, to help you. It’s going to be a team effort.”

Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at sam.h.stejskal@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.