Chicago Fire vs. Columbus Crew | MLS Match Preview

CHICAGO FIRE vs COLUMBUS CREW
TOYOTA PARK, Bridgeview, Ill.
Aug. 2, 2014 (WEEK 21, MLS Game #196)
7:30 p.m. CT (My50 Chi; TWCS-OH)

The Chicago Fire continue their homestand when they play host to the Columbus Crew in a crucial match for both clubs on Saturday evening at Toyota Park. The Fire started the stand at midweek with a scoreless draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC, leaving them five points out of the playoff positions. The Crew have won back-to-back games following a seven-game winless skid, and now hold one of the top five places in the Eastern Conference.

REFEREE: Silviu Petrescu. AR1 (bench): James Conlee; AR2 (opposite): Mark Cahen; 4th: Jose Carlos Rivero
MLS Career: 85 games; FC/gm: 27.4; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 10; pens: 15

SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: CLB: Tony Tchani, Wil Trapp
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CHI: Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Mike Magee, Chris Ritter … CLB: Bernardo Anor, Federico Higuain
DISABLED LIST: CLB: Matthew Wiet; Josh Williams; Kingsley Baiden (season-ending injury)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (51 meetings): Fire 24 wins (1 shootout), 77 goals … Crew 14 wins (0 shootout), 75 goals … Ties 13
AT CHICAGO (26 meetings): Fire 14 wins (0 shootout), 43 goals … Crew 5 wins (0 shootout), 32 goals … Ties 7

2014 (MLS):
5/24: CLB 2, CHI 0 (Finlay 10; Arrieta 25)

  • The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Ethan Finlay and Jairo Arrieta scored first-half goals to lead the Crew to a 2-0 win, May 24 at Crew Stadium.
  • The Crew haven’t won at Toyota Park since the 2006 season. In the 12 meetings in all competitions since in Bridgeview, the Fire have won seven, with four draws, including a victory in the lone Bridgeview meeting a season ago.
  • The Fire did defeat the Crew 4-2 in extra time in a U.S. Open Cup fifth-round match, June 25 at Toyota Park. A late goal from Juan Luis Anangono sent the game into extra time, then goals from Quincy Amarikwa and Anangono sent the Fire through.
  • Coaches record: Frank Yallop vs. CLB: P23 W7 L9 D7 … Gregg Berhalter vs. CHI: P1 W1 L0 D0

LAST MEETING (MLS)

  • The Crew took the lead in the 10th minute. Ethan Finlay received a through ball from Federico Higuain, blew past a Fire defender, touched the ball around goalkeeper Sean Johnson to the right, and hit an off-balance shot at a tight angle just past the goalpost.
  • The Crew stretched the lead in the 25th minute, when Jairo Arrieta was provided another perfect pass from Higuain. He raced past a defender to go in one-on-one on goal, and squared to the goal before powering a shot between the 'keeper's legs.
  • COLUMBUS CREW (4-2-3-1): Steve Clark - Hector Jimenez, Tyson Wahl, Eric Gehrig, Chad Barson (Michael Parkhurst 87) - Tony Tchani, Wil Trapp - Ethan Finlay, Federico Higuain, Justin Meram (Josh Williams 74) - Jairo Arrieta (Dominic Oduro 67).
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-4-2): Sean Johnson - Steven Kinney, Patrick Ianni, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Greg Cochrane - Dilly Duka (Grant Ward 61), Jeff Larentowicz, Benji Joya (Logan Pause 46), Harry Shipp - Quincy Amarikwa, Juan Luis Anangono.

CHICAGO FIRE

The Chicago Fire opened their homestand with a result, reaching a scoreless draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Wednesday evening at Toyota Park. The Fire are in eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 21 points from 20 games.

LAST MATCH

  • Perhaps the best chance of the match came in the 49th minute when Vancouver midfielder Erik Hurtado was denied by a superb Sean Johnson kick save after the Whitecaps forward broke through one-on-one in the right side of the area. Johnson was credited with two saves for the match.
  • Whitecaps FC goalkeeper David Ousted was also credited with a pair of saves in the clean sheet.
  • Fire head coach Frank Yallop made three changes to the team that fell 5-1 to the San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium. Patrick Ianni, Grant Ward and Chris Ritter came into the side, in place of Bakary Soumare, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Harry Shipp.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-4-2): Sean Johnson - Lovel Palmer, Jeff Larentowicz, Patrick Ianni, Gonzalo Segares - Grant Ward (Harry Shipp 62), Matt Watson, Chris Ritter (Razvan Cocis 62), Alex - Mike Magee, Quincy Amarikwa (Matthew Fondy 82).

TEAM NEWS

  • The Fire played to their league-leading 12th draw of the season, one more than Vancouver in second place. The league record is 16 draws, set by the Fire and New York in 2011. The Portland Timbers led MLS with 15 draws a season ago.
  • “Trying to get a win is the next plan. It is what it is. We’re obviously not ready to go and take a game over and win, because we would’ve done that by now. Not losing is sometimes a good thing, but at this point in the season we need to win,” said Fire head coach Frank Yallop. “I think that tonight was a good opportunity to do that, and we didn’t quite do it. I thought we played a pretty good game all around, without being really dynamic in the final third; and that’s what wins games.”
  • The Fire were shut out in attack for a third time this season, the first since a June 4 scoreless draw with Colorado. They also recorded their third defensive shutout this season, all in the last eight games.
  • “Sometimes you tie a lot of games in the season, and you don’t know why, sometimes you win a ton, and you’ve played the same as you would have done if you had gotten the ties, and it looks like you’re doing great,” Yallop said. “I think we’ve played well enough to get more wins out of the ties, but maybe there should be some losses in there, which means more points. I don’t know, I can’t put a finger on it.”
  • After featuring at center back in the friendly vs. Tottenham Hotspur, Jeff Larentowicz moved there for the league match, from his usual central midfield role.
  • “Itís a place I’ve played before for a number of years so I’m pretty comfortable and I felt all right ... Clean sheets are good. However we want to play, we have to work as a unit,” said Larentowicz. “Whether it’s me or anybody else – you have to communicate, you have to work well with each other. I think that’s what we did tonight, and I think that’s what we didn’t do in San Jose. I don’t think it was just a backline issue, I think it was kind of everybody. Tonight, for sure, we worked together and communicated. Good defenses make the goalkeeper’s job easy and I think we did that for Sean.”
  • “Other than winning the game, it’s probably the most solid we’ve looked, limiting a pretty potent team to a couple of chances. Having said that, we didn’t look as dangerous as we have looked at home, at times, so it’s a fine line. We had chances, some good looks, but I was pleased with the overall defensive unit and I thought Patrick and Jeff did a good job.”
  • Patrick Ianni also started in central defense for the first time since June 7, as the pair of Bakary Soumare and Jhon Kennedy Hurtado both missed out in the same match for the first time this season.
  • For just the second time in the last 19 league matches, Harry Shipp came off the substitutes’ bench, playing the final 28 minutes as Grant Ward made his first start since July 6.
  • "He’s just tired. I had a good chat with Harry. I think he looked a bit tired, not in the Tottenham game, but the San Jose game, everyone looked tired. They hit a bit of a wall, these young guys, when they come into the league, and I think he just hit a bit of a wall,” Yallop said. “But, I think he looked fresh when he came on, so that was good, and we will decide what to do on the weekend. It was for resting and just getting him fresh.”
  • Razvan Cocis made his MLS debut, coming into a wide midfield role for the final 28 minutes.
  • “I think he did OK against Tottenham, it’s hard, he's not really trained with us. He's been doing his own work. We have been away on a road trip and we came back, and we’ve not really trained because we played three games in a week,” Yallop said. “He's clean and simple and once he gets his legs under and becomes part of the team, it will be a lot easier for him.”

COLUMBUS CREW

The Columbus Crew won their second game on the trot, getting a late decider for a 2-1 win against the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on Saturday evening. The Crew are in a tie for third place in the Eastern Conference, with 26 points from 20 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • The Crew took the lead in the 43rd minute. After Ethan Finlay was taken down just outside the top of the box, Federico Higuain whistled the resulting free kick over the wall, finding nothing but the back of the net.
  • The Revolution drew even five minutes after the second-half restart. Kelyn Rowe sent in a corner kick from the right and A.J. Soares met it with a snap header at the near post to make it 1-1.
  • But the Crew found the decider six minutes from the end. Justin Meram collected the ball at midfield and drove a long pass up the center of the field through to Finlay, who held off a defender before slotting past 'keeper Bobby Shuttleworth for the eventual match-winner.
  • Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter made one change to the team that came back for a 2-1 win against the Montreal Impact at Crew Stadium. Wil Trapp came into the midfield, replacing Kevan George.
  • COLUMBUS CREW (4-4-1-1): Steve Clark - Chad Barson (Eric Gehrig 83), Giancarlo Gonzalez, Michael Parkhurst, Waylon Francis - Ethan Finlay, Wil Trapp, Tony Tchani, Bernardo Anor (Justin Meram 83) - Federico Higuain - Adam Bedell (Aaron Schoenfeld 65).

TEAM NEWS

  • The Crew have won back-to-back games on the heels of a seven-game winless run, their first consecutive victories since opening the season with three straight wins. Since those three wins to start the campaign, the Crew have three wins over their last 18 league games.
  • “If you look at the Portland game, we should have gotten three points out of that one. If you look at the Toronto game, we should have gotten three points out of that one in Toronto,” said Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter. “In these games, we’ve closed. In the Montreal game, we came from behind and then the last stretch we had to grind it out and we did it. This game, same type of environment and we did it. That’s the difference right now.”
  • Federico Higuain scored his seventh goal of the season, his first goal since May 17. It was the team’s first goal from a free kick this season; Higuain had scored three of his goals from the penalty spot.
  • “(Federico Higuain) needed that. He needed that goal. It was a fantastic free kick on turf. To hit a ball like that is pretty special, and he has that ability in him,” said Berhalter. “And we’re getting him there. He had a tough week last week with three games. He played all the minutes in those games. It wasn’t easy for him, and this was a great response I think.”
  • Ethan Finlay scored his fifth goal of the season, his all coming since May 17. Finlay has made all eight of his league starts in that span, including five in a row.
  • “If you look at all my goals, I’ve had great set-ups. I’m not just being a team guy, honestly the ball tonight was unbelievable. It’s just me making runs and my teammates picking me out. I hope I can return the favor later in the year,” said Finlay.
  • Adam Bedell made a second consecutive starts, his first two MLS starts of his career, playing as the lone out-and-out striker.
  • “I felt that we had a bunch of set pieces that we were extremely dangerous on, a couple of good runs in the box that we were really dangerous on. I felt like the goal was coming and the goal itself was a fantastic move. We talked about it at half time: the outside guy moving from the outside to inside, getting behind the center backs. It was exactly what we talked about. It was great execution,” said Berhalter. “I think Ethan (Finlay) did a great job of that. He was dangerous all night; him, together with Bernie (Anor) and Federico (Higuain). They’re a handful. They’re difficult to play against, and then when you talk about (Adam) Bedell and (Aaron) Schoenfeld, they did a good job.”
  • After starting three of the previous five games, Justin Meram came off the substitutes’ bench, just his second relief appearance in league play since May 17.
  • “We think (Justin Meram) can be a guy that starts the games. But when he doesn’t, we know what he can bring. We know how dangerous he is, how talented he is and he can make a play,” Berhalter said. “So we put them in purely to win the game. We made two subs and we didn’t want a tie. We wanted to win. That’s the attitude we have. That’s what type of soccer we try to play: be aggressive, be offensive. We make moves like that to win.”