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Eastern Conference Championship

Preview: Chicago host Dallas with playoffs looming

CHI_DAL_DL

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CHICAGO FIRE vs FC DALLAS
TOYOTA PARK, Bridgeview, Ill.

October 12, 2011
8:30 p.m. ET (CSN-Chi; FS-SW)

When the Chicago Fire and FC Dallas meet in the Brimstone Cup finale Wednesday at Toyota Park, it will have added importance with both clubs firmly in the thick of the MLS Cup Playoffs race. The Fire come into the game still trying to climb into the final wild card spot, after a 1-1 draw at the Houston Dynamo last time out. FC Dallas can claim a postseason berth; a win in Chicago would not only put an end to a four-game losing skid, but also give them the Brimstone Cup, awarded by supporters of the two clubs, for a 10th consecutive year.

REFEREE: Michael Kennedy. SAR (bench): Corey Rockwell; JAR (opposite): Peter Balciunas; 4th: Chris Penso MLS Career: 142 games; FC/gm: 28.7; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 26; pens: 48

INJURY REPORT

  • CHICAGO FIRE –­ ­OUT: MF Gabriel Ferrari (L knee ACL reconstruction); DF Steven Kinney (lower abdominal strain)
  • FC DALLAS - OUT: DF Edson Edward (R knee ACL tear); MF David Ferreira (R ankle); QUESTIONABLE: MF Andrew Wiedeman (groin); MF Andrew Jacobson(concussion); PROBABLE: MF Ricardo Villar (ankle)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

SUSPENDED:

DAL: Daniel Hernandez (caution accumulation; through Oct. 12)

WARNINGS:

SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: CHI: Diego Chaves, Dan Gargan, Cory Gibbs, Dominic Oduro

SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CHI: Yamith Cuesta, Baggio Husidic, Josep Mikulic, Cristian Nazarit, Daniel Paladini, Logan Pause, Gonzalo Segares à DAL: Marvin Chavez, Jackson Goncalves, Ugo Ihemelu, Jeremy Hall, Andrew Jacobson, George John, Zach Loyd

HEAD-TO-HEAD

  • ALL-TIME (34 meetings): Fire 11 wins (1 shootout), 52 goals...FC Dallas 19 wins (2 shootout), 65 goals...Ties 4
  • AT CHICAGO (17 meetings): Fire 8 wins (1 shootout), 30 goals...FC Dallas 7 wins (1 shootout), 27 goals...Ties 2
  • The teams opened the season against each other, all the way back on March 19 at Pizza Hut Park. Diego Chaves and Milton Rodriguez traded goals in the opening 18 minutes as the teams ended in a 1-1 draw.
  • The Fire have never defeated Dallas at Toyota Park. FCD won four consecutive trips from 2006-09 before the 1-1 draw last season.
  • Chicago has one victory in the last 11 meetings all-time between the teams, that coming March 21, 2009 in Frisco.
  • The clubs play for the Brimstone Cup û 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).
  • Dallas has won the cup for each of the last nine 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. Dallas won the season series from 2006-08 and in 2010; retaining possession when the teams split in ‘09.
  • Coaches' records: Schellas Hyndman v CHI: P6 W3 L1 D2...Frank Klopas vs. DAL: first game

LAST MEETING (MLS)

  • 3/19: DAL 1, CHI 1 (Rodriguez 19 - Chaves 17)
  • The visitors took the lead after 17 minutes. A partially cleared free-kick fell to Cory Gibbs, but his shot was parried by FCD goalkeeper Kevin Hartman. But Diego Chaves was there to sweep home the rebound.
  • FC Dallas pulled even barely a minute later. Zach Loyd carved out some space on the left and put in a rolling cross that Milton Rodriguez skipped home with a nifty back heel flick.
  • FCD finished the game a man down after center back Brek Shea was sent off after pulling down Fire striker Gaston Puerari when he looked to be clean through.
  • FC DALLAS (4-1-4-1): Kevin Hartman - Jackson Goncalves, Brek Shea (sent off 55), George John, Zach Loyd - Daniel Hernandez - Marvin Chavez, Eric Alexander (Andrew Jacobson 72), David Ferreira, Eric Avila (Ugo Ihemelu 62) - Milton Rodriguez (Ruben Luna 65).
  • CHICAGO FIRE (3-4-1-2): Sean Johnson - Jalil Anibaba, Josip Mikulic, Cory Gibbs - Bratislav Ristic (Patrick Nyarko 42), Logan Pause, Michael Videira (Baggio Husidic 62), Gonzalo Segares - Marco Pappa - Gaston Puerari, Diego Chaves (Orr Barouch 75).

CHICAGO FIRE

The Chicago Fire saw their winning streak halted at three games, but still extended their unbeaten run, playing to a 1-1 draw with the Houston Dynamo on Oct. 1 at Robertson Stadium. The Fire have 37 points from 31 matches on the year, sitting in seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • The Dynamo opened the scoring on 33 minutes. A Brad Davis corner kick to the near post deflected off a Chicago defender in a scrum, and the ball fell to Colin Clark, who swept it into the goal from close range.
  • But the visitors were level 10 minutes later. Dominic Oduro won a foot race with Houston's Bobby Boswell to a through ball sent behind by Baggio Husidic, and Oduro flicked the ball with the outside of his right foot past goalkeeper Tally Hall inside the far post.
  • Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas made five changes to the team that rolled to a 3-0 win against Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium. Dan Gargan and Josip Mikulic came into the back four for Jalil Anibaba and Michael Videira, Baggio Husidic and Corben Bone started in midfield for Marco Pappa and Pavel Pardo, and Diego Chaves started in place of Patrick Nyarko.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-4-2): Sean Johnson - Michael Videira, Cory Gibbs, Jalil Anibaba, Gonzalo Segares - Logan Pause, Daniel Paladini, Baggio Husidic (Pavel Pardo 67), Corben Bone (Marco Pappa 73) - Diego Chaves, Dominic Oduro (Patrick Nyarko 51).

TEAM NEWS

  • The Fire have lost just once in their last nine games, taking 18 of a possible 27 points since a seemingly disastrous loss in Vancouver on Aug. 7.
  • With the Open Cup final looming three days after the game against the Dynamo, Klopas held out Marco Pappa after his hat trick against Real Salt Lake, striker Patrick Nyarko (who had made 16 starts in a row) and former Mexican international Pavel Pardo.
  • “It was a very good result for us. We played a couple days ago at Salt Lake and we know [Houston] is a difficult place to play,” said Fire interim coach Frank Klopas. “As we are pushing to make the playoffs, it was very important not to lose the game. A win would have been great, we tried to push the game to win, but a point is good. We have three games left so it’s a good result because it’s against a good team.”
  • Dominic Oduro returned to his goalscoring ways, netting the lone goal in Houston, his third goal in the last four games and the seventh of his team-leading 12 since Aug. 7.
  • “We are trying to stretch it out to make it to the playoffs,” Oduro said. “We were looking for three points, but we will take a tie. It’s great to get a point on the road. Now we are ready to go home, try to win our games and hopefully make it to the playoffs.”
  • Oduro is the only Fire player not named Ante Razov to have tallied 12 goals in a season for the Fire. Entering the final two weeks of the regular season, Oduro’s 12 goals were the fifth-most in a season in Fire history. Razov tallied 14 or more goals in 1999 (14), 2002 (14), 2003 (14) and 2000 (18).
  • Days after the Houston match, the Fire fell in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final, dropping a 2-0 decision to Seattle Sounders FC. Fredy Montero and Osvaldo Alonso scored second-half goals to give Sounders FC their third consecutive U.S. Open Cup title, and deny the Fire a fifth win in the U.S. Soccer national championship.
  • “Obviously we’re disappointed, with not winning,” said Klopas. “We put a lot of effort into it, but it wasn’t particularly one of our better nights.”
  • Playmaker Sebastian Grazzini was able to feature, but only briefly, coming on for the final five minutes after missing both the Real Salt Lake and Houston games with a left hamstring injury.
  • “It had nothing to do with it being the 85th minute,” Klopas said. “I knew the guy, talked to him, and he said he could give us 10 minutes.”

FC DALLAS

FC Dallas saw their losing streak reach four games, falling to yet another 1-0 defeat, this time to the Colorado Rapids on Oct. 1 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. FCD has 46 points from 31 games on the season, now in fourth place in the Western Conference.

  • The game's lone goal came in the 25th minute. Sanna Nyassi swung in a corner from the right side and Drew Moor rose up to drive a powerful header into the back of the net, his second goal in as many games.
  • The Rapids finished the game a man down after Miguel Comminges was sent off in the 74th minute following a second bookable offense, but FCD could not capitalize.
  • FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman made one change to the team that lost 1-0 to the Houston Dynamo at Pizza Hut Park. Marvin Chavez returned to the team in place of Ricardo Villar.
  • FC DALLAS (4-2-3-1): Kevin Hartman - Zach Loyd, George John, Ugo Ihemelu, Jair Benitez - Andrew Jacobson (Ricardo Villar 31), Daniel Hernandez - Marvin Chavez, Jackson (Daniel Cruz 35), Brek Shea - Maicon Santos (Fabian Castillo 67).

TEAM NEWS

  • FC Dallas have been shutout in four consecutive league games, losing all of them. At 360 minutes, FCD has the longest goalless streak in MLS this season and 10 minutes away from the club record, set in 2003.
  • “I think the team is just anxious and I think they’re frustrated,” FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman said. “The results haven’t gone our way and [the players are] disappointed, but that’s what we would expect. I would be really concerned if they were just happy-go-lucky right now.”
  • FC Dallas have lost their last three home games, one shy of the club record, set in the club’s inaugural season and also in 1998. After the trip to Chicago, FCD will have their final game of the regular season at Pizza Hut Park, against Vancouver.
  • “The last few games I thought we’ve played all right, and the ball just isn’t bouncing right for us right now. We’re getting some good opportunities and it’s just not going in,” said center back Ugo Ihemelu. “Defensively we want to get back to the basics, because at the beginning of the season we had so many shutouts, but recently we’ve been losing games 1-0.”
  • Hyndman made two changes before the game was half over. Andrew Jacobson was forced off after 31 minutes after suffering a clash of heads, and Jackson was removed just minutes later in place of Daniel Cruz.
  • “I thought we weren’t getting anything in the center midfield. Our idea was to put more pressure on the back four by going with some speed up front, and I thought Colorado did a good job bypassing the defense, so we weren’t getting much out of it,” said Hyndman. “I thought we surprisingly played much better once we made the change.”
  • Marvin Chavez was given his first start in four games, as he and Brek Shea started on the flanks together for the first time since Aug. 27.
  • Still, FC Dallas can qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs simply with a victory, or with a draw and defeats by either Portland or Houston and also by New York.
  • “I think right now we just have to ride this out, and we’ve got to get a win to get in the playoffs,” said Ihemelu. “To start building for playoffs right now it’s just continuing to do things right and eventually something’s going to go right.”