Chicago Fire vs. FC Dallas | MLS Match Preview

CHICAGO FIRE vs FC DALLAS
TOYOTA PARK, Bridgeview, Ill.
Aug. 30, 2014 (WEEK 24, MLS Game #222)
7:30 p.m. CT (My50 Chi; TWCS-TX)

The battle for the Brimstone Cup is enjoined again as the Chicago Fire play host to FC Dallas on Saturday evening at Toyota Park. The Fire enter the match five points out of the final playoff position in the Eastern Conference, following their 14th draw of the season last weekend in a 2-2 result at Toronto FC. FC Dallas are second place in the Western Conference after extending their current undefeated run to 10 games last time out, going a man down and defeating Real Salt Lake 2-1 at Toyota Stadium.

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REFEREE: Marcos de Oliveira. AR1 (bench): Kermit Quisenberry; AR2 (opposite): Greg Barkey; 4th: Alan Kelly
MLS Career: 2 games; FC/gm: 28.0; Y/gm: 3.0; R: 1; pens: 2

SUSPENDED: DAL: Michel (caution accumulation; through Aug. 31); Blas Perez (through Aug. 31)
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: CHI: Gonzalo Segares … DAL: Blas Perez
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CHI: Mike Magee, Chris Ritter, Patrick Ianni, Lovel Palmer, Bakary Soumare … DAL: Fabian Castillo, Matt Hedges, Je-Vaughn Watson, Victor Ulloa, Adam Moffat
DISABLED LIST: DAL: Hendry Thomas (season-ending injury)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (37 meetings): Fire 13 wins (1 shootout), 58 goals … FC Dallas 20 wins (2 shootout), 70 goals …Ties 4
AT CHICAGO (19 meetings): Fire 9 wins (1 shootout), 33 goals … FC Dallas 8 wins (1 shootout), 30 goals … Ties 2

LAST YEAR (MLS)
10/12: DAL 2, CHI 3 (Cooper 63, 75 – Anangono 25; Magee 42; Anibaba 52) … The teams are meeting for the only time this season in league play.

  • The Fire have won the Brimstone Cup – awarded by the two supporters’ clubs of the two teams so named when it matched the Fire and the Burn – each of the last two years, following a 3-2 triumph Oct. 12 at Toyota Stadium. It was the club’s first wins in the series between the teams since 2001.
  • When the Fire won 2-1 at Toyota Park in 2012, it was their first win ever in Bridgeview, their last previous home win coming in 2005. It was also the first for the Fire in the all-time series since 2009.
  • Coaches record: Oscar Pareja vs. CHI: P2 W1 L1 D0 … Frank Yallop vs. DAL: P26 W14 L8 D6

CHICAGO FIRE
The Chicago Fire reached yet another draw, this time coming back for a late 2-2 deadlock with Toronto FC on Saturday evening at BMO Field. The Fire are in eighth place in the Eastern Conference with 26 points from 24 games.

LAST MATCH

  • Toronto FC were ahead after just three minutes of play. Full back Justin Morrow burst down the left wing and put in a cross which bounced off Chicago center back Bakary Soumare and left goalkeeper Sean Johnson stranded as the ball settled in the back of the net.
  • The Fire were level in the 69th minute as Robert Earnshaw netted the equalizer against his former club, heading home Grant Ward's cross past goalkeeper Joe Bendik.
  • TFC again nosed in front with 10 minutes to go when substitute Luke Moore sprung Gilberto clear on goal from midfield with a curling through ball. Gilberto rounded Johnson with a cheeky touch and slotted home coolly from the heart of the box.
  • But there was one final answer for the Fire. Lovel Palmer worked free on the right flank and put in a cross, which Quincy Amarikwa struck with a sweet volley to give his side another equalizer.
  • Fire head coach Frank Yallop made four changes to the team that fell 1-0 to the Montréal Impact at Stade Saputo. Bakary Soumare, Gonzalo Segares, Sanna Nyassi and Quincy Amarikwa came into the side, in place of Patrick Ianni, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Greg Cochrane and Mike Magee.
  • CHICAGO FIRE (4-4-1-1): Sean Johnson - Lovel Palmer, Bakary Soumare, Jeff Larentowicz, Gonzalo Segares - Sanna Nyassi (Robert Earnshaw 65), Razvan Cocis, Matt Watson, Alex - Harry Shipp (Grant Ward 58) - Quincy Amarikwa.

TEAM NEWS

  • It was the 14th draw for the Fire this season, just two behind the all-time MLS record set in 2011 by the Fire and the New York Red Bulls. It also snapped a two-game losing streak away from Toyota Park.
  • “Coming back in any game is always good, at least we got something out of it rather than let it slip, so I’m really happy with the fight back and the spirit of the guys, but quality-wise we’re not quite there yet,” said Fire head coach Frank Yallop. “To come to Toronto with the quality side they have and come away with a point is good.”
  • Robert Earnshaw made his Fire debut one to remember in his return to Major League Soccer, scoring against his former club with the equalizer. Earnshaw scored eight goals in 26 league appearances for TFC a year ago.
  • “As TFC fans know, he knows where the net is,” Yallop said. “He’s not played for a couple of months now and said he’s probably got 15 or 20 minutes, and I said how does 30 grab you? He’s dangerous, and he creates the second with his forcefulness in the box and he’s going to help us. We struggle to be dangerous at times, but I felt we were very dynamic once Earnie come on and it was good to see.”
  • Said Earnshaw: “It’s like I haven’t been away. Maybe just because it is a familiar ground and a place I am very fond of. I have been back and forth here, it’s a great place that I like to come to. … The goal I scored was a welcome to Chicago, but also a thank you very much to Toronto.”
  • Quincy Amarikwa scored his seventh goal of the season, tying him atop the club leaderboard with Mike Magee, his first goal since July 12. Amarikwa has nine goals in all competitions.
  • “We didn’t make it easy on ourselves but as a team we fought together and we got the draw … We were trying to bring them into the middle and then get it out wide for some crosses,” Amarikwa said.
  • Sanna Nyassi made his first start for the Fire since arriving in a trade with Montréal. Nyassi had made his Chicago debut the week before against his former club as a substitute.
  • After Jhon Kennedy Hurtado was traded to Chivas USA in the days leading up to the Toronto match, Jeff Larentowicz moved back into central defense for a fourth start in the last five league games, playing alongside Bakary Soumare for a second game.
  • “Every team I manage I want them to fight hard. We’ve been in almost every game but we just don’t have quite enough quality in all our positions to really dominate and take games over,” Yallop said. “We do have the fighting spirit and once we add some pieces I think we’ll be OK, so it’s a building process but I’m happy with the overall commitment from everybody.”

FC DALLAS
FC Dallas extended their undefeated streak to 10 games, going a man down yet defeating Real Salt Lake 2-1 on Friday evening at Toyota Stadium. FC Dallas sit in a tie for third place in the Western Conference with 42 points from 25 games.

LAST MATCH

  • Just before halftime, after being fouled by defender Chris Schuler, FCD striker Blas Perez was shoved by Schuler and fell to the ground. Schuler was given a yellow card for unsporting behavior and Perez, who was already on a yellow card, was given a second yellow for simulation and sent off by referee Ismail Elfath.
  • But FC Dallas still scored first. In the 50th minute, Michel took a corner that deflected off of Schuler and into the path of Je-Vaughn Watson, who chested the ball into the goal from almost on the goal line.
  • The lead was doubled by FCD, still a man down, in the 74th minute. Fabian Castillo took a pass from Tesho Akindele into the area, rounded a defenderand stroked his shot into the far lower corner past goalkeeper Nick Rimando for the eventual game-winner.
  • RSL pulled a goal back in second-half stoppage time when Olmes Garcia put home a bicycle kick after Sebastian Velasquez chased down a corner and sent a cross back into the box, Garcia's effort deflecting off a defender and past goalkeeper Raul Fernandez, but it was too little, too late.
  • FCD head coach Oscar Pareja made one change to the team that rolled to a 5-0 victory against the San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium. Blas Perez came back into the team in place of Ryan Hollingshead.
  • FC DALLAS (4-2-3-1): Raul Fernandez - Je-Vaughn Watson, Zach Loyd, Matt Hedges, Jair Benitez (Kellyn Acosta 65) - Victor Ulloa, Michel - Fabian Castillo (Peter Luccin 80), Tesho Akindele, Andres Escobar (Ryan Hollingshead 70) - Blas Perez (ejected 44).

TEAM NEWS

  • FC Dallas extended their undefeated streak to 10 games – their longest since their club-record 19-game run in 2010 when they went to MLS Cup – in the victory against Real Salt Lake.
  • “So far we're good. We have 42 points, we're fighting for a spot on top. There are still a lot of games to come and this season is hard,” said FCD head coach Oscar Pareja. “We look on to the next one – to Chicago. Tonight we're happy. We're enjoying these points against a good rival with a lot of adversities, which reflect what has happened during the year.”
  • Fabian Castillo scored the game-winning goal in the win against RSL, now with a goal and/or assist in seven consecutive league games when he’s played, dating back to May 31, with six goals and three assists in that time.
  • “He's committed. He understands what it takes to get to the next level. Now he's in a place where he has not been before and he is experiencing that. Now he's feeling it, and he understands that he will be the one to raise his own bar and keep going up,” said Pareja. “He's young. We forget that he's young – he's just 22. But Fabian has embraced this program and this project and that's great. It's a long way to go, it's a long journey. He knows.”
  • Castillo has a goal and/or an assist in his last 11 games in all competitions, scoring four goals and adding three assists in FCD’s run to the U.S. Open Cup semifinals.
  • “He is one of our best attacking options right now. He has been working hard on the training field. He comes to practice early. He does his work in the gym. It’s his hard work paying off. With a good coach like Oscar [Pareja], who gives him the freedom to do whatever,” said Je-Vaughn Watson. “That’s why the team is doing so well. Everyone is happy. Everyone is comfortable. We’re more than just a soccer team here. We’re more like a family.”
  • Said Castillo: “There are a lot of forwards in Colombia who are playing well right now. I’m only concentrating on FC Dallas right now. I’m focused on helping my team here by scoring goals. I’m just trying to do things right and everything should work itself out on its own. I’m not working to leave. I’m working for FC Dallas and for this team to become a champion.”
  • The red card shown to Blas Perez was the ninth of the season for FC Dallas. The MLS record in a single season is 11 red cards, issued to New York in 2000.
  • “A lot of times when you go down a man, that mentality to win, that will to win goes away and you bunker for a tie,” defender Zach Loyd said. “But we came out in the second half, still aggressive with 10 guys. It showed the character of the team this year. It shows the resilience of this team. No matter who is playing, who is filling in, everyone is stepping up.”
  • Making a fourth consecutive start at fullback, Watson scored his fourth goal of the season, his first since April 5, when he netted a pair of goals vs. Houston.
  • Michel collected his first assist since April 19, playing in a holding midfield role. Michel has scored six goals this season, all from free kicks or penalties; both of his assists have come on corner kicks.
  • “We’ve played a lot of games together now. We know what the coach wants and tactically, we’re on the same page,” said fellow holding midfielder Victor Ulloa. “Things are going right for us. [Salt Lake] had a lot of possession but they weren’t dangerous. We tried, when possible, to keep the ball in their half. … We’ll take it.”
  • Tesho Akindele recorded his second assist, his first since June 11. Akindele has six goals and two assists over the last nine games.