the Fire claiming a 1-0 victory at Giants Stadium in April -- and MetroStars boss Bob Bradley has not had much luck against his former club, winning just twice in league play, though the last meeting was a 3-0 MetroStars win in Chicago on May 14. Both teams come in after impressive road wins on the weekend -- the Metros in Columbus while the Fire became the first team to win in Salt Lake City.
REFEREE: Brian Hall. SAR (bench): Nate Clement; JAR (opposite): Chip Reed; 4th: Lee Suckel
MLS Career: 93 games; FC/gm: 29.7; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 25; pens: 30
Games involving MetroStars: P20 W6 L13 T1; FC/gm: 30.1; Y/gm: 3.8; R: 3; pens: 7
Games involving Fire: P18 W9 L7 T2; FC/gm: 31.9; Y/gm: 4.0; R: 11; pens: 8
INJURY REPORT: METROSTARS - OUT: GK Mike Ueltschey (lower abdominal strain); DF Tim Ward (L hamstring strain); MF Chris Corcoran (R hamstring strain); DOUBTFUL: DF Jeff Agoos (R hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Mark Lisi (L ankle contusion) ... CHICAGO FIRE: OUT: MD Craig Capano (L torn ACL); DF C.J. Brown (R hamstring strain); DF Leonard Griffin (R knee ligament strain); GK Matt Pickens (R groin strain); FW Andy Herron (R hamstring strain); MF John Thorrington (L hamstring strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: CHI: FW Lubos Reiter (Slovakia; June 4 v POR; June 8 v LUX); FW Will Johnson (Canada U-20)
YELLOW PERIL: MET: FW Abbe Ibrahim (7 CP in 2 gms)
The two Eastern Conference rivals will continue their pitched battle once more this season after tonight. They'll conclude their season series on Oct. 5 at Soldier Field, a game rescheduled from the previous Aug. 28 date.
ALL-TIME (22 meetings): MetroStars 6 wins (0 shootout), 26 goals ... Fire 13 wins (0 shootout), 37 goals ... 3 draws
AT GIANTS STADIUM: (11 meetings): MetroStars 3 wins (0 shootout), 16 goals ... Fire 7 wins (0 shootout), 19 goals ... 1 draw
The teams have split their two meetings this season. The Fire won 1-0 on April 22 at Giants Stadium, as Nate Jaqua scored the game's only goal when he stripped the MetroStars Jeff Parke in midfield and raced in on goal, holding him off before hitting a low shot that took a deflection before skipping past Metro 'keeper Zach Wells.
Amado Guevara had a glorious opportunity to pull the home side level shortly after the break when Kelly Gray pulled down John Wolyniec from behind, but the Honduran international pounded his penalty off the base of the post -- his first miss from the spot in MLS after going 6-for-6 a year ago.
The MetroStars claimed a 3-0 meeting on May 21 at Soldier Field, their successive win on the road this season after starting the season winless at home. Amado Guevara took advantage of a dreadful error to put the MetroStars ahead (23), latching onto a pass behind a Chicago defender in his own area and driving a shot past a stranded Zach Thornton that he nearly saved.
Eddie Gaven then scored twice on either side of halftime. He doubled the Metro lead just before the break, latching onto to a wonderfully-struck long ball from Youri Djorkaeff behind nutmegging Thornton from close range (45).
Then in the 62th minute, after Guevara was sprung in midfield to set off on a long run at goal, the Honduran international threaded a pass to the streaking Gaven who fired home to give MetroStars coach Bob Bradley just his second-ever win against his former club.
Here's Dave Sarachan's team (3-4-3): Zach Thornton - Tony Sanneh, Jim Curtin, Samuel Caballero (Jack Stewart 46) - John Thorrington (Thiago 60), Chris Armas, Jesse Marsch (Chad Barrett 76), Ivan Guerrero - Andy Herron, Lubos Reiter, Chris Rolfe
Here's Bob Bradley's team (4-4-2): Zach Wells - Chris Leitch, Tim Regan, Jeff Agoos, Tim Ward - Michael Bradley, Mark Lisi - Eddie Gaven Amado Guevara - Mike Magee, Youri Djorkaeff
A year ago, the teams split their season series, each winning one game. The Fire continued their mastery of the MetroStars with a 3-0 home victory on May 1 (Selolwane 15, Ralph 56, Razov 77), then the clubs played to back-to-back 1-1 draws on May 15 at Giants Stadium (Taylor 13 - Razov 51) and July 17 at Soldier Field (Ralph 13 - Guevara 84 pen)
The MetroStars then defeated the Fire for the first time in more than two years in league play, claiming a 2-1 victory a week later at Giants Stadium (Guevara 43 pen, Wolyniec 57 - Armas 23)
Before that victory, the last Metro win was June 22, 2002, a 1-0 win in Chicago. The Fire then reeled off a nine-match unbeaten run in the series, winning six with three draws.
The MetroStars have won just three times in the last 17 league meetings between the teams, and just three times in the last 20 meetings in all competitions, including a loss in the 2003 U.S. Open Cup Final.
Coaches record: Bob Bradley v CHI: P10 W2 L5 T3 ... Dave Sarachan vs. MET: P10 W5 L2 D3
The MetroStars scored on either side of halftime before easing to a comprehensive victory against the Crew, who have now lost five of their last seven games.
Youri Djorkaeff's first goal in MLS put the MetroStars in the lead after 38 minutes, a long-range blast beating Bill Gaudette, who was making his first MLS start after first-choice Crew 'keeper Jon Busch was lost for the season to a knee injury.
Then four minutes after the break, Abbe Ibrahim neatly flicked on a long ball from Michael Bradley, and Eddie Gaven collected the pass and raced away from a Crew defender before slotting past Gaudette. Ibrahim finished off the scoring with his first MLS goal, getting on the end of a John Wolyniec chip before driving a low shot home from the heart of the area.
MetroStars coach Bob Bradley made three changes to the team that lost 1-0 to the Kansas City Wizards midweek to start the road swing. Carlos Mendes came into the back four for the injured Tim Ward as Tim Regan moved to a fullback position. Mike Magee came into midfield for the injured Mark Lisi, and Abbe Ibrahim started up top for John Wolyniec.
Here's Bradley's team (4-4-2): Zach Wells - Chris Leitch, Carlos Mendes, Jeff Parke, Tim Regan - Michael Bradley, Amado Guevara - Eddie Gaven (Seth Stammler 89), Mike Magee (Gilberto Flores 73) - Youri Djorkaeff (John Wolyniec 68), Abbe Ibrahim
"Columbus had a match Wednesday as well. I made the point to the team that teams were in the same boat," said Bradley. "It is a lot about mentality. ... We were much sharper on with ball [compared to Wednesday]. The surface is a little bigger and one of the best that we played on all season."
The MetroStars finished off their two-game road swing with a victory, defeating the Columbus Crew 3-0 at Crew Stadium last Saturday. The victory pulled the Metros out of a tie at the foot of the Eastern Conference table - they are now in fourth place in the East with 12 points from nine matches, a point ahead of D.C. United but three behind the Kansas City Wizards and still nine adrift of the New England Revolution.
For Djorkaeff, it was the first goal with the MetroStars for the World Cup champion. "It was a great goal. As a rifleman for the team, it was a good moment for me," said Djorkaeff. "I was very happy because it came after all of the near misses." Added Bradley: "It was great to see him get his first goal. He is excited. It shows the reason that he is still playing."
It was also the first MLS goal for Ibrahim. "He [Ibrahim] is making progress every day. I felt tonight that part that was good was his reading of situations when his teammates needed to find a hole, show, and hold the ball," said Bradley. "He wasn't just looking to run with the ball on the dribble. That is important because even if you are fast, you can't just take off every time."
Eddie Gaven now has goals for the Metros in two of his last three games, but Wednesday will be his last appearance in a MetroStars uniform for a while, as he joins the U.S. under-20 national team for the FIFA World Youth Championship in Holland.
Also named to the final U.S. team for the competition was fullback Tim Ward, who suffered a hamstring strain in the Wednesday loss to the Wizards.
The MetroStars are hoping the grass surface now covering Giants Stadium will be a help. They are scheduled to play two more home matches on the real stuff currently on top of the Field Turf surface at the Meadowlands - June 12 v D.C. United and July 27 v FC Dallas. "Earlier in the year we played at Soldier Field and beat Chicago 3-0," Michael Bradley said. "That field wasn't in the best of conditions but ... compared to FieldTurf, any grass field is good to play on."
The MetroStars come off their road trip with nine points gained out of a possible 12 on their travels, and with nine goals scored and just two allowed. But they are still winless in five matches at Giants Stadium, the club's winless streak at home now eight matches, dating back to last Sept. 11.
"We started off with three games at home. That is not the way any team would want to start. They were tight games. One was played in a monsoon," said Bradley. "At the end of those games, we had two points. Everyone was going crazy, but you have to remember it is a long season."
The first-ever home loss for Real came in their first home game played on a grass field, laid for next weekend's World Cup qualifying match. Real have yet to win on the road this year.
Chris Armas - playing his 200th league match - got the Fire off to a dream start, driving a weak clearance back home from just inside the penalty area after just five minutes.
The Fire then finished off the match after the break. Samuel Caballero got on the end of an Armas freekick swung in from the left, nodding home from the top of the goal area (53). Then six minutes from time, rookie Chad Barrett spun away from a pair of Real defenders in the area before slotting home inside the far post.
Fire coach Dave Sarachan made two changes from the team that knocked off the Colorado Rapids 2-1 on Saturday night at home. Jim Curtin returned to the lineup after seeing his ever-present streak ended, coming in to the back four for the injured Tony Sanneh. With Justin Mapp dealing with the death of his mother, Samuel Caballero also came in as a center back, Gonzalo Segares moving to a fullback role as Mario Ivan Guerrero moved forward into midfield.
Here's Sarachan's team (4-1-3-2): Zach Thornton - Logan Pause, Samuel Caballero, Jim Curtin, Gonzalo Segares - Chris Armas - Nate Jaqua, Thiago, Ivan Guerrero - Andy Herron (Chris Rolfe 11/Jesse Marsch 83), Lubos Reiter (Chad Barrett 56).
"The mindset coming in, it was a game that we wanted to build from the previous week and bring that energy tonight," said Sarachan. "I thought we did that over the course of 90 minutes and I thought the concentration level and the organization of the team was very good throughout the 90 minutes."
The Chicago Fire hit the road for the first of a pair of matches and started off in fine fashion, winning for the second consecutive in a 3-0 victory against Real Salt Lake. The win moved the Fire into second place in the Eastern Conference with 16 points from 10 matches, one ahead of the Kansas City Wizards and now just five behind East leader New England Revolution.
For Armas, the milestone of his 200th game was highlighted by the first goal in the contest. "(The win) is extra special tonight it comes on the 200th game," said Armas. "When you go on the road and win, it's impressive. When you go and win 3-0 you can feel very good about it."
Two other players hit for their first goals in MLS in the game. Samuel Caballero's was his first in the league, while Chad Barrett's was his first as a professional.
Armas became the 12th player to hit the 200 game mark in MLS history. The leaders are still active - Chris Henderson (Columbus Crew) and Steve Ralston (New England Revolution) have each made 266 league appearances. Of the 12 on the 200-game list, only three are not currently active in the league: Mike Clark (9, 221); Richie Williams (10, 216) and Mauricio Cienfuegos (11, 206).
Lubos Reiter will achieve what could be a first in MLS history - a player returning home to participate in UEFA qualifiers for a major competition. He is in the squad for Slovakia in their World Cup qualifying matches against Portugal on Saturday and Luxembourg next Wednesday. Reiter has 25 caps and eight goals for Slovakia.