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Final

Preview: Fire play host as Crew look to go top of East

CHICAGO FIRE vs COLUMBUS CREW
TOYOTA PARK, Bridgeview, Ill.

7:30 p.m. CT (CSN-Chi; ONN)
October 22, 2011 (WEEK 32; MLS Game 302)

The Chicago Fire and Columbus Crew renew their Midwestern rivalry to close out the 2011 MLS regular season when they meet Saturday evening at Toyota Park. The Fire saw their remarkable close-season run put to an end with New York's win, despite staying alive after one of the most remarkable comebacks in MLS history, a 2-1 win at D.C. United. The Crew are still chasing the top seed overall in the Eastern Conference and need to win to ensure they will not face a midweek wild card game, coming off a 3-0 win at the New England Revolution.

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REFEREE: Hilario Grajeda. SAR (bench): Kermit Quisenberry; JAR (opposite): Claudio Badea; 4th: Abbey Okulaja
MLS Career: 56 games; FC/gm: 24.3; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 11; pens: 9

INJURY REPORT: CHICAGO FIRE - OUT: MF Gabriel Ferrari (L knee ACL reconstruction); DF Steven Kinney (sports hernia); DOUBTFUL: FW Cristian Nazarit (L quad strain); MF Michael Videira (L groin strain) ... COLUMBUS CREW - DOUBTFUL: MF Tony Tchani (R knee surgery); QUESTIONABLE: MF Robbie Rogers (R hamstring strain); PROBABLE: FW Tommy Heinemann (lower back strain); MF Danny O'Rourke (L knee tightness); DF Rich Balchan (abdominal strain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

SUSPENDED: CHI: Josip Mikulic (caution accumulation; through Oct. 23)

HEAD-TO-HEAD

  • ALL-TIME (43 meetings): Fire 19 wins (1 shootout), 66 goals ...Crew 11 wins (0 shootout), 63 goals ... Ties 13
  • AT CHICAGO (22 meetings): Fire 10 wins (0 shootout), 35 goals ... Crew 5 wins (0 shootout), 28 goals ... Ties 7
  • In the first meeting of the season between the clubs on June 12, Cristian Nazarit scored three minutes into second-half stoppage time to give the Fire a dramatic 1-0 win at Crew Stadium.
  • Since 2005, the Crew have defeated the Fire at home just once, last July 3. The Crew's previous home win vs. Chicago came July 3, 2004. In the last 10 encounters in Columbus, the Fire have won five, with four draws.
  • The Fire's 2-0 win in Bridgeview in the second meeting last season was their first at home vs. Columbus since June 3, 2007. The four intervening meetings at Toyota Park all ended in draws.
  • Coaches record: Robert Warzycha v CHI: P9 W2 L3 D4 ... Frank Klopas vs. CLB: P1 W1 L0 D0

LAST MEETING (MLS)

  • 6/12: CLB 0, CHI 1 (Nazarit 90)
  • The game's lone goal came just after the clock turned over the 90-minute mark. Orr Barouch dribbled through a host of Crew defenders on the right side of the box before firing a shot that Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer was able to get a hand to. But he merely stopped the ball for Cristian Nazarit, who swept into the goal.
  • Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson was not called upon to make a single save in recording the shutout.
  • COLUMBUS CREW (4-1-3-2): William Hesmer - Sebastian Miranda, Chad Marshall, Julius James, Josh Gardner - Rich Balchan - Eddie Gaven, Emmanuel Ekpo, Justin Meram (Dejan Rusmir 52) - Jeff Cunningham (Kevin Burns 73), Andres Mendoza.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-1-3-2): Sean Johnson - Jalil Anibaba, Cory Gibbs, Yamith Cuesta, Gonzalo Segares - Logan Pause - Dominic Oduro, Baggio Husidic (Daniel Paladini 84), Patrick Nyarko - Gaston Puerari (Orr Barouch 67), Diego Chaves (Cristian Nazarit 79).

CHICAGO FIRE

The Chicago Fire recorded one of the most remarkable comebacks in MLS history, scoring twice in stoppage time for a 2-1 win against D.C. United on Saturday evening at RFK Stadium. The Fire have 40 points from 33 matches on the year, sitting in seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • United finally broke through just before the final minute when Gonzalo Segares was adjudged to have brought down Santino Quaranta on the right side of the box. Dwayne De Rosario converted from the spot to give D.C. the lead in the 90th minute.
  • But three minutes into stoppage time, Sebastian Grazzini brought the Fire level, collecting a bouncing ball in the restraining arc and hitting a spectacular bending ball inside the left post.
  • Then two minutes later, Segares beat the offside trap and pulled back the ball from on the byeline on the left, finding Diego Chaves at the back post where he tapped home the game-winner.
  • Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas made four changes to the team that fell to a 2-1 defeat by FC Dallas at Toyota Park. Michael Videira and Josip Mikulic came into the back four for the suspended Dan Gargan and Cory Gibbs, and Daniel Paladini and Marco Pappa came into the midfield for Diego Chaves and the suspended Pavel Pardo.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-2-3-1): Sean Johnson - Michael Videira (Yamith Cuesta 19), Josip Mikulic, Jalil Anibaba, Gonzalo Segares - Logan Pause, Daniel Paladini (Diego Chaves 90) - Marco Pappa, Sebastian Grazzini, Patrick Nyarko - Dominic Oduro (Orr Barouch 73).

TEAM NEWS

  • The Fire would have come into the final weekend still in the hunt for the final spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs if New York and Portland had each lost their final games, but the Red Bulls 1-0 win Thursday against Philadelphia gave them the final wild card berth.
  • "You know what? After looking at what just happened, we're thinking that anything's possible," defender Gonzalo Segares said. "We still have a chance mathematically and we got to go out next weekend against Columbus and get three points. It might not be totally in our hands but we're hopeful."
  • The Fire became the fifth team in MLS history to score game-tying and winning goals in second-half stoppage time, and it was the third time either D.C. or Chicago had been involved. United was on the winning end in a 3-2 win against the Fire, April 8, 2000, and also in a 4-2 win against New England on July 27, 2003.
  • "I thought throughout the game we played well. We pushed the game [and] we had opportunities. I think that overall if you look at the stat sheet I think [D.C. United] had 7-1 corners, but I think we had good moments in the game," said Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas. "We created some good chances. You kind of feel bad a little bit for them, but that's how the game is. For us it was a great comeback and a great feeling and I'm proud of our guys."
  • Dwayne De Rosario's 90th-minute penalty was the latest lead goal overcome for a win after 90 minutes had elapsed.
  • "I don't know [how we did it]," Segares said. "We've been fighting a lot this season. We keep getting punched and we just go right back up. That's just how it works. We went a goal behind and we could've put our heads down but we kept fighting and we found those two goals that gave us the win."
  • Diego Chaves entered the game in the 90th minute and scored the game-winner five minutes later. The winning goalscorer the first time a team scored the tying and winning goals in stoppage time? Current United head coach Ben Olsen.
  • For Chaves, it was his first goal since April 23 when he scored against Houston.
  • Chicago was also the first MLS team to win a game after falling behind in the 75th minute or later since the league eliminated overtime in 2004. It was the first time in league history that two teams gained wins from a losing position after the 80th minute on the same day (Chicago and Seattle).
  • The Fire were forced into an earlier substitution when Michael Videira suffered a groin injury and Jalil Anibaba had to come on after just 19 minutes.
  • Sebastan Grazzini scored his fifth goal in 11 league games since arriving in Chicago in mid-July. He was making a second consecutive start after missing two games with a hamstring injury.
  • "Sometimes you make some moves and things go your way, but I think just overall the whole game was pretty positive. I think it's never over until it's over," Klopas said. "We pushed it and brought a couple subs in that had an impact on the game. I think in the end some special players made special plays and we when we had the chances, we finished them."

COLUMBUS CREW

The Columbus Crew won for a second game on the trot, defeating the New England Revolution 3-0 on Saturday evening at Gillette Stadium. The Crew have 47 points from 32 games on the season, in third place in the Eastern Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • The Crew opened the scoring on 31 minutes. Emilio Rentería served as the provider, flicking the ball over the top and into the Revolution penalty area. Mendoza waited out the bounce and a retreating Revolution defender before slotting home a left-footed shot.
  • Dilly Duka then doubled the Crew lead after 59 minutes. New England defender Darrius Barnes failed to clear and the ball fell to Duka on the left side of the penalty area. Duka created a yard of space and fired home inside the far post.
  • Mendoza sealed the points by finishing off a tidy piece of direct play four minutes later. Sebasti·n Miranda sent a long ball down the right flank for Renter"a, and he then drove a cross to the back post for Mendoza to thump home in style.
  • Crew head coach Robert Warzycha made two changes to the team that came back for a 2-1 win against D.C. United at Crew Stadium. Chad Marshall and Josh Gardner returned to the back four, in place of Kevin Burns and Shaun Francis.
  • COLUMBUS CREW (4-4-2): William Hesmer - Sebastian Miranda, Chad Marshall, Julius James, Josh Gardner - Eddie Gaven, Danny O'Rourke, Emmanuel Ekpo, Dilly Duka (Jeff Cunningham 89) - Andres Mendoza (Bernardo Anor 80), Emilio Renteria (Tommy Heinemann 78).

TEAM NEWS

  • The win was the second in a row for the Crew after a six-game winless run from Aug. 27-Sept. 28.
  • "It's easy to change the lineup. It's easy to blame somebody. I believed in these guys in the beginning. I'm putting the same guys on the field because I believe that they can do it," said Crew coach Robert Warzycha. "Obviously, that's the payback. The important thing is that we have three points and we scored three goals."
  • The Crew will win the Eastern Conference and hold the top seed and home-field advantage throughout the MLS Cup Playoffs if they defeat Chicago and both Sporting Kansas City and Philadelphia Union fail to win.
  • "I think we are going to go to win the Eastern Conference. We have a game in Chicago, and we have some momentum winning (against) D.C. at home and here at New England," Warzycha said. "We're not going to rest anybody. They are going to have the weekend off. If they want to go and play, so that we can keep the momentum, that's very positive before the playoffs."
  • Andres Mendoza raised his goal total for the season to 13, the most by a Crew player since Jeff Cunningham scored 16 in 2002.
  • "That's what he does to you. You think that there's going to be a different balance when the ball starts, but he finished very well. They were active," said Warzycha. "That's what we said before the game; they have to make the runs, they have to be active, they have to go after it and chase every single ball. That happened today."
  • It was the fourth time this season Mendoza had hit for two goals in a game. He is tied with Vancouver's Eric Hassli for the most multiple-goal games in MLS this season.
  • He's a very sneaky and dangerous striker," midfielder Dilly Duka said. "Getting two goals puts him in a good spot for the Golden Boot and puts him in a good spot to start the playoffs hot."
  • Duka scored his first professional goal, in his 21st league appearance this season and his 32nd across all competitions.
  • "I've been waiting all year and tonight a couple of guys on the team said this could be the day, and it was, so I think I'm pretty fortunate it happened today," Duka said. "I thought we played a good game and it created chances for a lot of guys and I was one of those guys. It was just a good feeling."
  • The Crew were caught offside 15 times, a Columbus club record, two more than the previous mark. "Maybe it was something new for the guys and sometimes they went too early," Warzycha said. "We were on the edge and we were looking for the ball behind. That was the key to the game."