7 pm CT (MSG)
After losing three games in a row and allowing 11 goals (including six in one game to D.C. United), the MetroStars suddenly reversed fortune and knocked off the San Jose Earthquakes 2-0 at home last weekend to reclaim the top spot in the Eastern Conference - as Bob Bradley looks to become the first coach in MLS history to record 100 wins. They face a Chicago Fire that they haven't beaten in seven consecutive league meetings, but one that returns home after seeing their current winless run extended to six games in a 3-1 loss to the bottom-dwelling New England Revolution at midweek.
REFEREE: Baldomero Toledo. SAR (bench): Steve Davidson; JAR (opposite): Richard Eddy; 4th: Michael Kennedy
MLS Career: 4 games; FC/gm: 26.8; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 2; pens: 0
Games involving Fire: P1 W0 L1 T0; FC/gm: 31.0; Y/gm: 4.0; R: 1; pens: 0
Games involving MetroStars: P1 W0 L0 T1; FC/gm: 29.0; Y/gm: 3.0; R: 0; pens: 0
INJURY REPORT: CHICAGO FIRE - OUT: MD Jesse Marsch (R ankle cartilage damage); DOUBTFUL: DF Evan Whitfield (R groin strain); QUESTIONABLE: FW Ante Razov (R ankle sprain); MD Chris Armas (R knee inflammation) ... METROSTARS - OUT: MD Michael Bradley (R foot stress fracture); MD Gilberto Flores (L ankle ruptured tendon); MD Mark Lisi (R ankle sprain); FW Cornell Glen (L quadriceps strain); DF Tim Regan (L knee MCL sprain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: CHI: Craig Capano (U.S. U-20 national team)
SUSPENDED: CHI: Scott Buete (through July 17)
YELLOW PERIL: CHI: C.J. Brown (10 CP in 2 gms); Andy Williams (20 CP) ... MET: Jeff Parke (19 CP); Ricardo Clark (18 CP)
This is the third of the four meetings between the Eastern Conference rivals, as they will finish their season series before the All-Star break with a home-and-home series over the next two weeks.
The teams played to a 1-1 draw in their last meeting, May 15 at Giants Stadium. Fabian Taylor's shot on the turn from the top of the area gave the MetroStars the lead after just 13 minutes, but six minutes after the break Ante Razov swept home a low DaMarcus Beasley cross from the left at the back post for the eventual leveller.
Here's Bradley's team (4-4-2): Jonny Walker - Chris Leitch, Tenywa Bonseu, Eddie Pope, Tim Regan - Joselito Vaca (Ricardo Clark 81), Amado Guevara, Mark Lisi, Eddie Gaven - Fabian Taylor (John Wolyniec 79), Cornell Glen (Sergio Galvan Rey 63).
Here's Sarachan's team on the night (3-4-1-2): Henry Ring - Evan Whitfield, Jim Curtin, C.J. Brown - Justin Mapp (Nate Jaqua 79), Chris Armas, Logan Pause, DaMarcus Beasley - Andy Williams (Craig Capano 86) - Damani Ralph, Ante Razov (Dipsy Selolwane 82).
The Fire have lost just one of the last 12 meetings between the two clubs including the last seven consecutive league matches since Bob Bradley took over the reins of the MetroStars. As well, Chicago last lost at Giants Stadium on May 27, 2000, where they are now 6-0-1 in their last seven matches in all competitions.
In the first meeting, three different forwards scored goals as the Fire won 3-0. Botswana international Dipsy Selolwane finished off a nice move through midfield in the 15th minute, before Damani Ralph doubled the lead after the break when he pounced on a poor clearance and sent it past Metro 'keeper Jonny Walker (56). Ante Razov then turned home a DaMarcus Beasley cross 13 minutes from time for the final Fire goal.
A year ago, the Fire had the MetroStars' number, winning three of the four league meetings with a draw in the fourth. The Fire won 3-2 on June 14 in New Jersey (LeBlanc 82, Guevara 90 pen - Razov 31, 66; Ralph 61), then won 2-1 on an Ante Razov golden goal two weeks later at home (Ralph 35, Razov 94 - Clark 60).
They played to a 1-1 draw in Naperville on Aug. 9 (Ralph 22 - Jolley 86), then the Fire won 2-1 on Aug. 24 at the Meadowlands (Wolyniec 28 - Ralph 45, Razov 86).
The teams also met in the U.S. Open Cup final as the MetroStars chased the first trophy in club history, but Damani Ralph's 68th-minute goal gave the Fire a 1-0 victory at Giants Stadium.
The only Metro victory over the last three seasons came on June 22, 2002 at Cardinal Stadium (1-0).
Ante Razov leads the Fire's all-time list against the Metros with 11 goals, 4 assists - four of those goals coming last year. Razov also had a goal v Metro while in Los Angeles. Damani Ralph is second among current Fire players with 5 goals, 1 assist. DaMarcus Beasley and Jesse Marsch have also hit for multiple goals against the MetroStars (2 each), while Andy Williams has 1 goal, 8 assists.
On the all-time Metro list, only two players have hit for multiple goals against Chicago - neither still with the club (Eduardo Hurtado and Steve Jolley, 2 each). Joey DiGiamarino has 3 goals for his career v the Fire, none while with the Metros.
Coaches record: Dave Sarachan v MET P6 W4 D0 L2 ... Bob Bradley vs. CHI: P6 W0 D4 L2
ALL-TIME (18 meetings): Fire 12 wins (0 shootout), 34 goals ... MetroStars 4 wins (0 shootout), 20 goals ... 2 draws
AT CHICAGO (9 meetings): Fire 6 wins (0 shootout), 17 goals ... MetroStars 2 wins (0 shootout), 6 goals ... 1 draw
Taylor Twellman ended the longest personal goalless drought of his career, but then was sent off at the end of the match to again force him to the sidelines this weekend.
Andy Williams gave the Fire the lead just before the half with a wonderful strike from just inside the penalty area, but the Revolution took control with a three-goal blitz after the break. Clint Dempsey headed home a pinpoint cross from Richie Baker two minutes into the half to equalize, then four minutes later Twellman played a neat 1-2 with Dempsey before lashing home a cross shot from the right side of the area.
Then Twellman had the easiest of finishes on a corner after Brian Kamler's flick-on from the near post found the striker all alone at the back stick.
But he was sent off in the 90th minute by referee Alex Prus for a hard tackle from behind in midfield on Williams. The Fire were left a man down themselves barely a minute later when rookie Scott Buete was booked for the second time.
"We're struggling right now, there's no question about it. Everybody's just got to take stock in their own personal commitment. I don't doubt the commitment, but when you don't get results there's a little lack of confidence," Fire coach Dave Sarachan said. "We now have to make sure that we're all in this together and we'll get through it. There is still a lot of quality within this team, but this is a league about competing every day, every game and rolling up your sleeves and if you don't results can go against you."
Sarachan made four changes to the team that earned the 1-1 draw with the Revolution in the first game in Chicago. DaMarcus Beasley returned from international duty to come in for Justin Mapp, as did Chris Armas, who came in for Logan Pause. Nate Jaqua came into attack for Dipsy Selolwane, and goalkeeper D.J. Countess made his first league appearance for the Fire, replacing Henry Ring, injured the day before.
Here's Sarachan's team (4-4-2): D.J. Countess - Orlando Perez (Justin Mapp 75),C.J. Brown, Jim Curtin, Kelly Gray (Leonard Griffin 85) - Andy Williams, Scott Buete, Chris Armas (Dipsy Selolwane 73), DaMarcus Beasley - Nate Jaqua, Damani Ralph.
"It was the tale of two halves. I thought we built on the last game in terms of the soccer getting better and the movement on and off the ball," Sarachan said. "I think that half was one of our better halves, but unfortunately the game is 90 minutes and the second half was not up to the standard."
Countess had not figured since the start of the season after Henry Ring surprisingly won the goalkeeping job in preseason - then held onto it. Countess was acquired from the Dallas Burn in the offseason.
It's good to get out there and get my first minutes for Chicago. It was actually very exciting for me; I didn't know I was starting until this afternoon, so I was pretty excited to play," Countess said. "Obviously right now I'm a little disappointed, but you live and learn and hopefully I'll do better next time."
The Chicago Fire had their winless streak run to six matches, unable to capitalize on a first-half goal as the New England Revolution exploded after the break for a 3-1 victory Wednesday in Foxborough in the second game of the clubs' home-and-home series. The Fire are now just two points ahead of the Revolution in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, with 18 points from 16 games.
John Wolyniec gave the home side a deserved lead just after the hour when he turned a wonderful through ball from Craig Ziadie inside the back post (63). Then Amado Guevara sealed the victory three minutes into added time when he converted from the penalty spot after Mike Magee was bundled over in the box.
Metro coach Bob Bradley made three changes to the team that was hammered 6-2 by D.C. United the previous weekend in Washington. Craig Ziadie returned to the lineup, coming in at right back for the injured Tim regan, while Kenny Arena came into central defense with Eddie Pope away with the U.S. national team. Eddie Gaven was also away with the USA, meaning John Wolyniec returned to the first XI.
Here's Bradley's team (4-1-3-2): Jonny Walker - Craig Ziadie, Kenny Arena, Jeff Parke, Chris Leitch - Ricardo Clark - Joselito Vaca, Amado Guevara, Mike Magee (Cornell Glen 89) - John Wolyniec, Sergio Galvan Rey (Pablo Brenes 76).
"I think it's important for us all year because we haven't had enough (shutouts)," said Bradley. "It's something that we talk about. I thought we had made a little bit of a turn in the right direction a few games ago. We let it slip a little bit."
The clean sheet came after Walker and the MetroStars had allowed six goals - after a five goals against night earlier in the season. "For Jonny, I'm pleased to see him come back," Bradley said. "I thought he handled it professionally." Said Walker: "It could have been a 6-5 game, especially in this situation. There are certain ways to lose, and we did not lose the right way last week."
Bradley now has 99 wins for his career, with Chicago Fire and the MetroStars, but said a win on Saturday will have nothing to do with the record or the fact that it would come against his former club.
"I want to beat Chicago because it is an important game for us in the standings," Bradley said. "What has a meaning is where you stand at the end of the season. I don't compare what I do with anybody else."
With Eddie Pope away, Bradley handed the captain's armband to Guevara. "Amado always plays with confidence, sometimes too much," Bradley said. "He's been a really important player this year. We continue to try to give him more responsibility. Certainly, I look at Eddie (Pope) and Amado as the two guys we still need to get more out of all the time. I think Amado has really stepped up to that challenge."
For Ziadie, his return to the team came after he wasn't even included in the travel squad for the match at D.C.
"Last week when Bob put me on the bench he told me to get my head right," said Ziadie. "Since I've been back from national team camp I hadn't been playing well. I took a couple of days off and the rest was good for me. It was a head check. That's how soccer is these days. Some days you're in form, some days you're not and I wasn't."
On Tuesday, the Metros defeated the PSL (third division) Long Island Rough Riders 2-1 in a friendly in Uniondale, Long Island. John Wolyniec gave the Metros a 20th-minute lead before Sergio Galvan Rey doubled it 15 minutes later. Shawn Higgins pulled back a goal for the home side 10 minutes from time.
Here's the team Bradley ran out: Zach Wells, Chris Leitch (Jeff Parke 46), Tenywa Bonseu, Seth Stammler, Craig Ziadie, Kenny Arena, Ricardo Clark, Joselito Vaca, Mike Magee, John Wolyniec (Cornell Glen 31), Sergio Galvan Rey (Ryan O'Neill 46)
The MetroStars put paid to a three-game losing streak, rebounding from a dismal loss to knock off the San Jose Earthquakes 2-0 at Giants Stadium on Saturday afternoon. With the victory - and D.C. United loss later - the Metros resumes the top spot in the Eastern Conference with 22 points from 16 matches, two ahead of United.