Chicago Fire vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC | MLS Match Preview

CHICAGO FIRE vs VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
TOYOTA PARK, Bridgeview, Ill.
July 30, 2014 (WEEK 21, MLS Game #191)
7:30 p.m. CT (TSN/RDS2; My50 Chi)

The Chicago Fire will be looking to jumpstart the second half of the season when they play host to a Vancouver Whitecaps FC side aiming to hang on to a top-five place when the teams meet Wednesday evening at Toyota Park. The Fire are four points out of the final playoff position in the Eastern Conference, coming off a 5-1 loss at the San Jose Earthquakes in their last match. Whitecaps FC have reached three consecutive draws, the last a 2-2 result with FC Dallas at BC Place over the weekend, and hold the final playoff position in the West by a single point.

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REFEREE: Fotis Bazakos. AR1 (bench): Chris Strickland; AR2 (opposite): Greg Barkey; 4th: Robert Sibiga
MLS Career: 29 games; FC/gm: 25.8; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 6; pens: 10

SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: VAN: Gershon Koffie, Sebastian Fernandez, Matias Laba
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CHI: Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Dilly Duka, Mike Magee … VAN: Andy O'Brien, Pedro Morales, Nigel Reo-Coker
DISABLED LIST: VAN: Calen Clarke (season-ending injury)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (4 meetings): Fire 1 win, 4 goals … Whitecaps FC 2 wins, 7 goals … Ties 1
AT CHICAGO (2 meetings): Fire 1 win, 1 goal … Whitecaps FC 0 wins, 0 goals … Ties 1

LAST YEAR (MLS):
7/14: VAN 3, CHI 1 (Sanvezzo 66, 71; Manneh 84 – Nyarko 94+)

  • This is the only league meeting between the teams this season.
  • Each team is undefeated at home in the all-time series between the clubs. The Fire have won once, with one draw, at Toyota Park – a 1-0 win in 2012 in the last Bridgeview encounter.
  • Whitecaps FC have won both meetings all-time in Vancouver, including a 3-1 win last July 14 at BC Place in the only meeting of the season.
  • Coaches record: Frank Yallop vs. VAN: P1 W0 L1 D0 … Carl Robinson vs. CHI: first game

CHICAGO FIRE

The Chicago Fire had their undefeated streak put to an end after four games, falling 5-1 to the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday evening at Buck Shaw Stadium. The Fire are in eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 20 points from 19 games.

LAST MATCH

  • The Quakes opened the scoring in the 45th minute. From midfield, Yannick Djalo sent a first-time into space for Shea Salinas to chase down the left wing. He then collected the pass and cut inside, firing home from inside the penalty area.
  • San Jose doubled their lead in the 52nd minute when nice buildup led to a chance for Chris Wondolowski. Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson blocked the initial shot, but Atiba Harris ran unmolested to the loose rebound and knocked it home from close range. Wondolowski made it 3-0 in the 62nd minute, slipping in a nifty shot from 12 yards past Johnson after Harris set him free from midfield.
  • The Fire drew a goal back in the 75th minute when Grant Ward collected a pass from Matt Watson and ripped a first-time laser from the edge of the area into the far side netting.
  • But the Quakes poured it on late. Set loose by Cordell Cato behind the Fire defense, Djalo cheekily chipped Johnson from outside the area in the 79th minute. Cato then slotted home five minutes later from a Wondolowski pass to complete the rout.
  • Fire head coach Frank Yallop made no changes to the team for a third consecutive match, keeping the group that reached a 1-1 draw with Philadelphia Union at Toyota Park.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-4-2): Sean Johnson - Lovel Palmer, Bakary Soumare, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Gonzalo Segares - Alex (Benji Joya 84), Matt Watson, Jeff Larentowicz, Harry Shipp (Grant Ward 59) - Mike Magee, Quincy Amarikwa (Matthew Fondy 60).

TEAM NEWS

  • The Fire conceded a season-high five goals in defeat by San Jose. The Fire last allowed five goals in a game in a 5-2 loss at New York in the final game of the 2013 season; the club record was set in a 6-2 loss to Columbus in 2003.
  • It was the first defeat for the Fire since a 3-1 loss to Seattle Sounders FC on June 7. They had allowed just three goals total in their four games in between (1-0-3).
  • “We weren’t first to the ball, we were very soft, sloppy and bad defensively, and when you play against anyone [like that] they’ll punish you. I thought San Jose played very well with what we gave them, which was a ton of chances and they buried five goals,” said Fire head coach Frank Yallop. “We take nothing out of this match and it was really disappointing to see. It was a real disappointing night for our group, not just defensively, but all-round it was flat, and they seemed a little disinterested which was alarming in a game like this.”
  • Making a third consecutive substitute appearance following five straight starts, Grant Ward scored his first goal with the Fire.
  • “When I come on the field – especially as a sub – I always look to bring on some energy and try and get some life into my teammates and just try and make an impact,” Ward said. “It was great to see the field, but it would have been better if I came on under better circumstances.”
  • Following the league defeat, the Fire played host to Tottenham Hotspur FC of the English Premier League, dropping a 2-0 decision on Saturday evening at Toyota Park.
  • Here’s the Fire team: Sean Johnson (Kyle Reynish 46th); Lovel Palmer (Steven Kinney 46th), Jeff Larentowicz (C) (Jhon Kennedy Hurtado 46th), Patrick Ianni (Bakary Soumare 46th), Gonzalo Segares (Greg Cochrane 46th); Grant Ward (Dilly Duka 55th), Chris Ritter (Logan Pause 46th), Matt Watson (Razvan Cocis 46th, Marco Franco 77th), Harry Shipp (Benji Joya 46th); Mike Magee (Alex 46th), Quincy Amarikwa (Matt Fondy 46th)
  • Jeff Larentowicz started at center back instead of his usual holding midfield role, playing the opening 45 minutes.
  • “I just wanted to look at Jeff there. Obviously, we got beat 5-1, so it’s different combinations I’m looking at and different things. So, you know, it’s my prerogative to look at stuff and try and work on stuff, and see what could be a different scene for us,” said Yallop. “But Jeff’s played there before, and I think he has the traits to play there. But again, I’ll evaluate the next little bit and pick a team that hopefully gets a good result Wednesday night, and that’s the most important thing.”
  • New signing Razvan Cocis made his Fire debut, coming on as a substitute to start the second half and playing a half-hour.
  • “I think he did well. He hasn’t played in – I think it’s 10 weeks in a regular season game, or anything 11 on 11. He knows the game. You don’t play that many times and have the pedigree without knowing the game,” Yallop said. “I think the more players we can get that have experience and that are savvy, I think that will help us. And I think he showed some stuff tonight that was simple, but good. Obviously, not being fit, so I gave him 30 minutes. I wanted to see how he was doing. I think he was doing fine. But I just didn’t want to push him too much to get him injured and not be available for the next couple of weeks.”

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC

Vancouver Whitecaps FC played to their third consecutive draw, coming back for a 2-2 result with FC Dallas on Sunday afternoon at BC Place. Whitecaps FC sit in fifth place in the Western Conference with 28 points from 20 games.

LAST MATCH

  • Whitecaps FC took the lead after just 11 minutes. Darren Mattocks opened the scoring when he ran onto an inch-perfect through ball from Gershon Koffie and drilled it home from just outside the area.
  • FC Dallas pulled even in the 29th minute when Zach Loyd's header beat Vancouver goalkeeper David Ousted but crashed off the crossbar before falling to Blas Perez, who put the rebound high into the net from just four yards out.
  • FC Dallas went up 2-1 with six minutes remaining in the first half. Carlyle Mitchell jumped for a long ball into the box with his arm raised and made clear contact, and referee Kevin Stott pointed to the spot. Michel then duly converted the penalty kick.
  • But Whitecaps FC canceled out that goal with a penalty of their own in the 53rd minute. Moises Hernandez was adjudged to have handled the ball right near the edge of the box, and Pedro Morales converted the penalty to leave the game knotted up.
  • Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson made three changes to the team that gained a 1-1 result with Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium. Matias Laba, Erik Hurtado and Pedro Morales came into the midfield in place of Mehdi Ballouchy, Nicolas Mezquida and Omar Salgado.
  • VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC (4-2-3-1): David Ousted - Steven Beitashour (Nigel Reo-Coker 90), Johnny Leveron, Carlyle Mitchell, Jordan Harvey - Gershon Koffie, Matias Laba - Erik Hurtado (Kekuta Manneh 68), Pedro Morales, Sebastian Fernandez (Omar Salgado 90) - Darren Mattocks.

TEAM NEWS

  • Whitecaps FC reached their third consecutive draw, returning home for the tie with FC Dallas. Whitecaps FC now have 10 draws in 20 matches this season, second-most in MLS (the Fire have 11 in 19 league games).
  • “It’s little things both defensively and offensively. We need to be sounder down there and communicate better and we need to put away those chances,” said goalkeeper David Ousted. “I’m still positive of the way we get into the chances, I think the guys up front are doing a tremendous job creating the chances. We just need that little edge to put them away.”
  • Whitecaps FC have allowed 11 goals in the final 15 minutes of games this season, most of any team in MLS. Their 18 goals conceded in the second half are tied for fourth-most in the league.
  • Whitecaps FC have also dropped points in six games after netting the opening goals (two losses, four draws), tied for second-most in MLS with Montreal and Chivas USA (the Fire have dropped points in eight games).
  • “I’m disappointed we lost two points. At halftime, I still had full confidence in the guys. We played well for an hour, then we switched off mentally twice. The concentration level wasn’t good enough in the last 15 minutes of the first half when we dug ourselves a little bit of a hole,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson. “I said to them at halftime that we just have to remain positive and focused and we’ll get back in it. In the second half, we had numerous chances to win the game, and not just tie the game. We’re disappointed.”
  • Darren Mattocks scored a goal for a third consecutive match in the draw, the longest goal-scoring streak of his three-season MLS career.
  • “I’m always a confident guy, whether I’m scoring or not. But it just goes to show me and everyone that hard work does pay off because I’ve been working extremely hard for the team offensively and defensively in practice and I guess so far a goal a game for three games isn’t bad,” Mattocks said.
  • Said Robinson: “There were three or four players that could’ve scored a couple of goals. It’s quite ironic that I sit here quite positive, but with the performance I’m disappointed that we didn’t score more than two goals. We had 20-plus shots in the game. When we don’t have that many shots then you’re not going to score many goals. But when you have that many shots, you’ll probably have three or more goals.”
  • Pedro Morales converted a penalty for his seventh goal this season, his fifth from the penalty spot and his first in league play since June 7. Morales has a goal and three assists in the last five games.
  • “You’re only going to score goals if you get into the box. To get into the box, it’s hard work. It’s end-to-end and when the game’s open, it’s the ones who have the desire and commitment to get into the box. It’s very few players who can score from outside the box on a regular basis,” said Robinson. “I didn’t think we did that enough, because if we did, we would have had more goals.”