MLS Match Preview: Chicago Fire vs. New York Red Bulls

CHICAGO FIRE vs NEW YORK RED BULLS
TOYOTA PARK, Bridgeview, Ill.
April 7, 2013 (WEEK 6, MLS Game #50)
4 p.m. CT (ESPN2/Deportes; TSN2), live chat on MLSsoccer.com

The Chicago Fire return to action looking to get their season untracked when they face the New York Red Bulls before an ESPN2 audience Sunday afternoon at Toyota Park. The Fire are still looking for their first win of the campaign, coming off a 4-1 home loss to Chivas USA two weeks ago. The Red Bulls finally won their first of the year last weekend, getting a late 2-1 home victory against Philadelphia Union.

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REFEREE: Allen Chapman. SAR (bench): Chris Strickland; JAR (opposite): Corey Parker; 4th: Jorge Gonzalez
MLS Career: 13 games; FC/gm: 21.0; Y/gm: 3.1; R: 1; pens: 2

DISABLED LIST: Questionable: CHI - Dilly Duka (right hamstring tightness); Alex (right calf contusion); Patrick Nyarko (right hamstring tightness)
SUSPENDED: none
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (43 meetings): Fire 22 wins, 68 goals … Red Bulls 12 wins, 48 goals … Ties 9
AT CHICAGO (21 meetings): Fire 12 wins, 37 goals … Red Bulls 3 wins, 19 goals … Ties 6
RETURN MATCHES: 10/27: New York Red Bulls vs. Chicago Fire, 5 p.m. ET (UniMas)

LAST YEAR (MLS):
6/17: CHI 3, NY 1 (Nyarko 4; Segares 68; Rolfe 81 – McCarty 55)
7/18: NY 1, CHI 0 (Henry 71)
10/6: NY 0, CHI 2 (MacDonald 65, 78)

  • The Red Bulls have never won at Toyota Park. In nine all-time meetings in Bridgeview, the Fire have won six, with three draws. New York’s last road win vs. Chicago came May 14, 2005, when the MetroStars posted a 3-1 victory at Soldier Field.
  • The Fire won the final meeting between the teams last season, a 2-0 win at Red Bull Arena on Oct. 6, their first away win in the series since the 2009 season.
  • The Fire won five consecutive meetings between the teams over the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
  • Coaches record: Frank Klopas vs. NY: P5 W2 L1 D2 … Mike Petke v CHI: first game

CHICAGO FIRE
The Chicago Fire return to action still looking for a first victory of the season, their last match a 4-1 loss to Chivas USA at Toyota Park on March 24. The Fire are in 10th place in the Eastern Conference with 1 point from 4 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • Chivas USA opened the scoring for the first time this season in the 57th minute when Edgar Mejía collected a perfect layoff from Juan Agudelo outside the box and drilled a rocket past Fire goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi.
  • Patrick Nyarko leveled the score seven minutes later, Chicago’s first goal of the season, when Sherjill MacDonald found him wide open on right side of the box following a tic-tac-toe move at the top of the box, and he calmly slotted home the equalizer.
  • • But the visitors retook the lead in the 73rd minute. A quick Chivas counter led to a free kick 25 yards out, and Mejía found Joaquín Velázquez on the back post for a header that sailed over Tornaghi and into the side netting.
  • Two minutes later, Jorge Villafaña picked out Agudelo on the break and he curled a shot off the inside of the far post and into the goal. The Fire's fate was sealed in the 89th minute when Jalil Anibaba knocked the ball into his own net off a cross from José Correa.
  • Fire head coach Frank Klopas made three changes to the team that reached a scoreless draw with Sporting Kansas City. Paolo Tornaghi came in between the posts for Sean Johnson, Wells Thompson started at right back in place of Michael Videira, and Alex came into the midfield for Dilly Duka.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-2-3-1): Paolo Tornaghi - Wells Thompson, Austin Berry, Jalil Anibaba, Gonzalo Segares - Jeff Larentowicz, Daniel Paladini (Maicon Santos 62) - Patrick Nyarko, Alex (Yazid Atouba Emane 86), Chris Rolfe - Sherjill MacDonald (Quincy Amarikwa 68).

TEAM NEWS

  • The four-game start without a victory is now the worst start in Fire team history. They had started a number of seasons with three games without a win.
  • “Right now we do not seem to be getting a break. We are making some mistakes that are hurting us,” said Fire head coach Frank Klopas. “You look at the guys, the game, the stats, everything you can say it’s not fair but it is what it is. When you don’t put the chances away, and we made some mistakes that hurt us, that’s it. You have a team; the injuries are part of it. You deal with it. The other guys have to step in and contribute.”
  • The Fire were beaten for four goals for a second time this season, both coming to the Home Depot Center clubs (losing 4-0 to the LA Galaxy on March 3 in the season opener).
  • "It’s embarrassing what happened today,” left back Gonzalo Segares said. "I’ve got no words to explain how things were so bad. We had a pretty strong first half. When you don't put away goals and when you give away easy ones, it's a bad recipe."
  • Patrick Nyarko’s goal vs. Chivas USA was the Fire’s first goal of the season, ending a 334-minute goalless drought to start the year, the third-longest streak in MLS history.
  • “We created a fair amount of chances and couldn’t finish them. It put the pressure on us to have to push the game more because we didn’t want to lose at home,” said Nyarko. “We can all look at ourselves and admit that these were pretty bad goals we conceded. The best thing is that we know we can only go up from here. All of the players know what we did wrong and it’s easily correctable.”
  • Even after the bye week, Nyarko is still tied for fouls suffered with 16 on the season, now level with FC Dallas midfielder David Ferreira.
  • “It's getting pretty bad,” Nyarko said. “It's getting frustrating, just knowing that when I beat guys, here it comes. The mentality is that I'm going to get fouled. Instead of making the next play, that's what I'm thinking about.” Said midfielder Jeff Larentowicz: “They want to get as close to possible to him and not let him turn. Pat is a tricky player, though. He's found ways to wiggle out and get in behind guys. But I think you can see as that ball comes into him, guys are tight on him, and they are chopping at him. That's what you do with a good player.”
  • There could be help on the defensive end this week as both Logan Pause (quadriceps) and Arne Friedrich (hamstring) have returned and could be available for selection this weekend. “Logan and Arne are in training,” said Klopas. “That’s a good sign there are no setbacks. We’ll just see how they do this week.”
  • Joel Lindpere will face a former club for the first time in his professional career when the Red Bulls come calling. Lindpere spent the last three seasons with New York. He missed the Chivas match while on World Cup qualifying duty with Estonia, where he came on as a substitute in its two matches. “This is a new feeling for me,” Lindpere said. “It’s excitement but it’s a strange feeling. It’s happening and it feels a little weird.”
  • Over the off week, the Fire lost a friendly 1-0 to Minnesota United FC of the NASL. Here’s the Fire team: Sean Johnson (Alec Kann 60’); Wells Thompson, Jalil Anibaba, Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares (Hunter Jumper 69’); Patrick Nyarko (Yazid Atouba 43’), Chris Rolfe (Leo Lelis* 56’), Jeff Larentowicz (Victor Pineda 71’), Corben Bone (Brendan King 73’); Maicon Santos (Colin Rolfe* 67’), Sherjill MacDonald (Quincy Amarikwa 67’)

NEW YORK RED BULLS
The New York Red Bulls put an end to their winless streak after four matches, defeating Philadelphia Union 2-1 on Saturday afternoon at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls are in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 5 points from 5 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • The Red Bulls broke through in the 55th minute. Jonny Steele whipped in a ball from the left side and a swiveling Dax McCarty managed to flick it past Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath and off the far post with the outside of his boot despite being tightly marked.
  • But seconds after entering the game as a substitute, Conor Casey struck for the leveller. He got onto the end of a long throw-in from Sheanon Williams and headed the ball in from close range for his goal with Philadelphia.
  • The winner came in the 81st minute through a touch of sheer class. Thierry Henry brought down a delicate pass from Peguy Luyindula with his thigh before beating MacMath with a smooth left-footed strike from inside the area.
  • Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke made two changes to the team that dropped a 1-0 result to the Montréal Impact. Jamison Olave came into the back four for the suspended Brandon Barklage, and Tim Cahill started up top in place of Fabian Espindola.
  • NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-4-2): Luis Robles - Kosuke Kimura, Jamison Olave, Markus Holgersson, Heath Pearce - Eric Alexander (Lloyd Sam 73), Juninho, Dax McCarty, Jonny Steele - Tim Cahill (Thierry Henry 59), Peguy Luyindula.

TEAM NEWS

  • The victory was the first as a head coach for Mike Petke, following an 0-2-2 start. “This was three weeks in the making,” Petke said. “They earned it. They earned it through their play the last couple of weeks, they earned it through their play Saturday and it’s just something to build on.”
  • After returning from international duty with Australia, Tim Cahill was carrying a nagging calf injury and was advised not to play for two weeks. But Cahill started in a more advanced role than usual, playing 59 minutes while wearing the captain’s armband.
  • “I basically gave them no option,” Cahill said. “For the boss’ sake and the club, you have to give them headaches and make sure that you make yourself available because Thierry was injured as well, I didn’t even really know. … I think it was a good enough risk to take because of the scenario that we had today. I just feel that for everyone this is what we should do. Players should play regardless. When I got back I was ruled out for two weeks and I wasn’t happy. I said, ‘At least give me a chance to prove my fitness and then we’ll see in the game.’ I felt fine. I felt like I was getting in behind, winning headers, closing people down, creating chances for others.”
  • Thierry Henry also returned earlier than expected, coming off the substitutes’ bench for the final half-hour and netting his first goal of 2013. Henry missed the Montréal match with a knee sprain.
  • “I’m still not 100 percent. That’s why I couldn’t start,” Henry said. “We did agree with [head coach Mike Petke] to not put me out there right from the start. I said to him if it’s 20 minutes I’ll try to give my best or if it’s five, if it’s one minute. I’m still not at the best with my knee, but sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. At the end of the day, the most important thing was the win, no matter who would’ve have scored.”
  • Said Juninho: “We started the week knowing he wasn’t healthy enough to start the game but we knew he could come in and change the game. He showed, once again, how important he is to us.”
  • Fabian Espíndola, who started each of the first four matches this season, was kept out of the Philadelphia contest with a hamstring injury.
  • “Espíndola and Cahill, we’re monitoring them,” Petke said. “Thierry came out and played a bit today. He’s still doing well, he’s somebody who is tough to get off the field along with Cahill, but we need to monitor them in the right way.”
  • Luyindula started a second straight match up top for the Red Bulls, playing the full 90 minutes for the first time in MLS. “I’m not just a straight striker, I’m not just a target-man who stays in front of the goal and just waiting for the balls,” said Luyindula. “I can make my team play, I can help them defensively, I can help them wide. I have so many things to bring to this team.”
  • Luis Robles started a fifth game in goal for the Red Bulls, with Santiago Castano again the unused substitute ‘keeper as Kevin Hartman nears availability for selection.
  • “We need to monitor [Hartman] and we brought him in for a reason,” Petke said. “We obviously understand being that he didn’t go through a preseason that it wasn’t going to be as if he was 100 percent ready. But we’re pushing him as best we can and every day he’s showing improvement, with fitness and everything, so I’m looking [for him to be available] hopefully very, very shortly.”