Preview: Rapids look to rebound at home vs. undefeated Fire

COL_vs_CHI_2012_04_01_DL

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COLORADO RAPIDS vs CHICAGO FIRE
DICK'S SPORTING GOODS PARK, Commerce City, Colo.
April 1, 2012 (WEEK 4, MLS Game #34)
5 p.m. MT (Galavision; Altitude2)

The Colorado Rapids return to Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Sunday afternoon when they entertain the Chicago Fire. The Rapids saw their perfect start come to an end on the road last weekend, a 4-1 loss at the New York Red Bulls. The Fire are undefeated in their two games thus far, starting off their home campaign on the right foot with a 1-0 win against Philadelphia Union.

REFEREE: Chris Penso. SAR (bench): Chris Strickland; JAR (opposite): Mike Rottersman; 4th: Yader Reyes
MLS Career: 14 games; FC/gm: 23.9; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 5; pens: 10

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INJURY REPORT:

  • CHICAGO FIRE - OUT: MF Steven Kinney (R posterior tibialis tendinitis); QUESTIONABLE: DF Dan Gargan (L toe sprain)
  • COLORADO RAPIDS - OUT: MF Jamie Smith (R ACL tear); DF Anthony Wallace (L Achilles tear); MF Pablo Mastroeni (headache symptoms); DOUBTFUL: FW Conor Casey (L Achilles tear)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

SUSPENDED: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD

ALL-TIME (36 meetings): Rapids 11 wins (1 shootout), 46 goals ... Fire 17 wins (0 shootout), 60 goals ... Ties 8
AT COLORADO (17 meetings): Rapids 8 wins (1 shootout), 28 goals ... Fire 3 wins (0 shootout), 20 goals ... Ties 6

LAST YEAR (MLS)
4/30: COL 1, CHI 1 (Akpan 49 - Pappa 43)
8/27: CHI 2, COL 0 (Oduro 17; Gibbs 36)

  • This is the only league meeting between the teams this season.
  • The road team has won just once in the last 14 meetings all-time in the series, covering the last seven seasons. That came in 2009; last year, the Fire won at Toyota Park, while the teams played to a 1-1 draw at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
  • Colorado last won at Chicago on Aug. 14, 2004, a 3-0 win at Soldier Field. The Rapids have never won at Toyota Park (0-4-2)
  • Coaches record: Oscar Pareja vs. CHI: first game ... Frank Klopas vs. COL: P1 W1 L0 T0

Rivero listo para su debut con Colorado

COLORADO RAPIDS

The Colorado Rapids saw their perfect start to the 2012 season come to a crashing halt, falling 4-1 to the New York Red Bulls on Sunday afternoon at Red Bull Arena. The Rapids are in a four-way tie for second place in the Western Conference with 6 points from 3 games.

LAST MATCH

  • The Red Bulls were two goals to the good after just six minutes. Thierry Henry put New York into a third-minute lead when he picked off a bad back pass from Rapids midfielder Ross LaBauex, then raced in on goal before tucking a low shot past goalkeeper Matt Pickens.
  • New York doubled their lead through a goal from Kenny Cooper in the sixth minute. Henry began the sequence when he sent a ball into the box for Cooper to run onto, and he fired a low shot from the right of the area inside the far post.
  • The Red Bulls made it 3-0 eight minutes after the break. Wilman Conde took a free kick from just inside the halfway line and found a streaking Henry, who beat a halfhearted Colorado trap and produced a signature goal, opening his hips and curling a right-footer inside the right post.
  • The Rapids pulled back a goal in the 77th minute. Rafa M·rquez was stripped of the ball by Jaime Castrillon, who knocked it forward to Omar Cummings. The Jamaican forward raced in on goal and curled a beautiful shot over Red Bulls goalkeeper Ryan Meara from just outside the area.
  • The Red Bulls sealed the contest in the 89th minute. Left back Roy Miller dribbled into the penalty area and drove a low cross to the near post, where Cooper got a touch from two yards out.
  • Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja made two changes to the team that defeated Philadelphia Union 2-1 at PPL Park. Wells Thompson and Ross LaBauex came into the side with Jeff Larentowicz suspended and Pablo Mastroeni injured.
  • COLORADO RAPIDS (4-2-1-3): Matt Pickens - Kosuke Kimura, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Luis Zapata - Brian Mullan (Andre Akpan 86), Wells Thompson (Tyrone Marshall 65) - Ross LaBauex (Quincy Amarikwa 65) - Tony Cascio, Omar Cummings, Jaime Castrillon.

TEAM NEWS

  • The four goals conceded by Colorado marked a season-high in MLS, and matched the most allowed by Colorado since a 5-2 loss to Houston to open the 2006 season.
  • "Without a doubt our maturity on defense has to be better than it was today, we have to pay more attention to detail, the team looked somewhat distraught at kickoff; not only because of the early goal," Pareja said. "This is team is a work in progress and we have to keep on working. It's easy when you win, we were coming off two consecutive wins but my message to the team is to keep on working, especially after tough losses."
  • The Rapids were missing Pablo Mastroeni, after he was removed from the field for the final 15 minutes in the Philadelphia match following a clash of heads, and Jeff Larentowicz, suspended after a red card vs. Philadelphia.
  • "[Jeff and Pablo] obviously bring experience and know what they're doing," Pareja said. "New York tried to put us on our heels and it's easier to do when you have players of that experience. It's normal to have to adjust to it, but we didn't adjust well."
  • Larentowicz saw his streak of 73 consecutive MLS games in league and postseason play come to an end in the 4-1 loss at New York.
  • "It's always a challenge not having players of that caliber ...," Pareja said. "It was not easy to overcome those moments today, despite that I thought the boys battled." Said center back Drew Moor: "Jaime (Castrillon) was big in the middle, Ross (LaBauex) worked extremely hard, which you know you are always going to get from him and they found some space as well, but again you go down two goals early it's going to be an uphill battle."
  • There was good news during the week as the international transfer certificate for Martin Rivero arrived, following a Rapids' appeal to USSoccer and FIFA after a delay in receiving his paperwork from the Argentinean football federation.
  • "We can now count on having him, and are working on preparing for Sunday's game knowing he's another player available for the game day roster," Pareja said. "... We're considering our options, but logically we now have Martin available. So we are expecting him to play on Sunday."
  • Pareja was not optimistic during the week that the Rapids would be able to count upon a return by Mastroeni.
  • "Martin will bring a connection with the other midfielders," Pareja said. "He is a naturally talented player, who has had quite a few weeks working with this team. He'll bring us some cohesion within the midfield."
  • On Wednesday, the club also acquired former U.S. youth international midfielder Kamani Hill through a league lottery. Hill went from UCLA to VfL Wolfsburg of the German Bundesliga, making his debut with the club in January of 2007. He joined Vitoria S.C. of Portugal in 2009, and was loaned to Aves of the Portuguese second division in 2010.

Our Club, Our City

CHICAGO FIRE

The Chicago Fire made their home debut for 2012 a successful one, getting the game's only goal for a victory against Philadelphia Union on Saturday evening at Toyota Park. The Fire are in third place in the Eastern Conference with 4 points from 2 games.

LAST MATCH

  • The Fire took the lead in the 28th minute. Marco Pappa took the ball on the right flank and danced out of a couple of tackles before putting in a cross that Dominic Oduro headed home inside the near post.
  • Fire head coach Frank Klopas made no changes to the team that reached a 1-1 draw with the Montreal Impact in the season opener at Olympic Stadium
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-3-1-2): Paolo Tornaghi - Dan Gargan, Cory Gibbs, Jalil Anibaba, Gonzalo Segares - Logan Pause, Pavel Pardo (Daniel Paladini 70), Marco Pappa (Federico Puppo 90)- Sebastian Grazzini (Rafael Robayo 85) - Patrick Nyarko, Dominic Oduro.

TEAM NEWS

  • A year ago, the Fire won just one of their first 11 home games - a figure they've already matched this season after their 1-0 home opener vs. Philadelphia on Saturday.
  • Dominic Oduro, who led the Fire with 12 goals last season, scored for the second time in as many weeks.
  • "At times in the game, he drifts off wide and he comes deep to get the ball. We work on this all the time in training. I think that his opportunity on the break, but now also when we do get wide now, that we work a lot on playing balls behind the defender," said Klopas. "It was great that he was able to finish a play like that in the air. Normally that's not one of his strengths, but it was great to see his timing, the jump the way he headed the ball was perfect."
  • Said Oduro: "As a forward, it's my job to score wherever the ball is, in the air or on the ground, I need to get to it. Pappa made a great delivery and I was right there to put it in. As to whether I'm working on headers or not, once the ball gets there I'll use any part of my body, besides my hands, to score."
  • Goalkeeper Sean Johnson has returned from the U.S. U-23 national team after seeing its hopes for qualification for the 2012 London Olympics dashed at the group stage, following a 3-3 draw with El Salvador. Johnson came on as a substitute in the final game; the tying goal was scored in stoppage time.
  • "At the end of the day, there's competition," Fire goalkeeper coach Aron Hyde told MLSsoccer.com. "No one in this football club doubts [Johnson's] abilities and everyone here is right behind him from that perspective. If he's in it this weekend, everybody believes that he can get the job done."
  • In his stead, 23-year-old Italian goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi has allowed just one goal in his two games as a starter.
  • "The important thing is that we were disciplined, the backline played really well. You talk about Paolo, but also Cory in the back... but it was a team effort," said Klopas. "You set certain goals, but you need to keep a clean sheet to create chances with the team and you need have an opportunity to create goals throughout the game."
  • Said Gibbs: "Jalil and I are a year-and-a-half into this thing, and our communication on switching men was spectacular. [Fullbacks] Gonzalo [Segares] and [Dan] Gargan kept the back line tight, unlike other games when we can get stretched out. Nothing got behind us."
  • A year ago, the Fire started the season with a draw and a victory - then didn't win again for three months.
  • "We know that we got off to a rough start last season, and it's important to get off to a strong start to this season," said Logan Pause. "I think we played really well. In the first half we clicked really well and were dangerous - they really didn't have anything. As the game went on they put numbers forward - they needed to fight, claw and look for set pieces in anything they can - but from our top back we did a good job defending."