Fire prepare for Saprissa showdown
CHICAGO, IL - After a three-week break, the Chicago Fire will return
to play in the 2004 CONCACAF Champions Cup Wednesday against Costa Rican
powerhouse Deportivo Saprissa in the first of their two leg semifinal
series. Tonight's match will take place at Estadio Nacional in San José,
Costa Rica, with kickoff set for 9:00 p.m. CT. Comcast Cable will air
the match live with Spanish-language commentary in over 70% of the homes
in the Chicagoland area.
Chicago Fire @ Deportivo Saprissa (CRC)
Wednesday, April 13 @ 9:00 p.m. CT
Estadio Nacional - San José, Costa Rica
TV: Comcast Cable - Check local listings on www.Chicago-Fire.com
Chicago Fire ACE/Tru-Fit Injury Report
Marsch, Jesse - R ankle cartilage damage - out
Perez, Orlando - lower back pain - out
Series History vs. Deportivo Saprissa
Wednesday will mark the first-ever contest between the Fire and Deportivo
Saprissa. The Fire has played only one contest against Costa Rican competition,
and that match also came in the Champions Cup semifinals when the Fire
earned a 1-1 draw with Saprissa's main rival, LD Alajuelense, on Oct.
1, 1999 in Las Vegas, NV. Despite the even result, the "Men in Red"
were unable to advance to the tournament final after falling 5-4 in penalty
Know Thy Enemy... About Deportivo Saprissa
Deportivo Saprissa has established itself as one of the most dominant
clubs in Costa Rica since its inception in 1935. In its nearly 70 years
of competition, Saprissa has captured 22 domestic titles (including six
consecutive titles from 1972-1977), second only to rival Alajuelense's
23 crowns, and have finished second 15 times, including during the 2002/2003
season. Saprissa has also tasted success in the Champions Cup after winning
the regional crown in 1993 and 1995. With a 3-2 victory Monday evening
over Guanacasteca, Saprissa moved its record in the current Clausura season
to an impressive 11-2-4 (37 pts.), placing them just two points behind
leader Club Sport Herediano in the Costa Rican Primera Division standings
with just five games remaining. Saprissa is currently riding a 10-game
unbeaten streak in domestic play, with its last defeat coming all the
way back on Feb. 25 to Municipal Pérez Zeledón.
Off the field, Saprissa is led by a pair of figures familiar to those
who have followed soccer in the CONCACAF region. The club is owned by
Jorge Vergara, the controversial Mexican businessman who also owns Chivas
of Guadalajara of the Mexican First Division and has made waves in American
soccer circles with his plans for an MLS expansion franchise. Former Costa
Rican National Team and Saprissa forward Hernán Medford has lead
the "Morados" from the sidelines since being named the club's
Technical Director in 2003. Medford represented the "Ticos"
in the 1990 and 2002 FIFA World Cup Finals.
"Free Kicks" vs. Deportivo Saprissa
Goalkeeper Henry Ring (above) has solidified his status as the Fire's
#1 goalkeeper after registering his third consecutive shutout spanning
all competitions in Saturday's 0-0 draw at San Jose. Ring has not allowed
a goal in his last 287 minutes, dating back to Chicago's 5-2 defeat at
San Juan Jabloteh in Leg One of the Champions Cup quarterfinals on Mar.
Wednesday is match night in Costa Rica, as the other semifinal match-up
in the 2004 CONCACAF Champions Cup features 2003 Torneo Clausura Mexican
Champion Monterrey traveling to the Central American country to face defending
Costa Rican Primera Division Champion LD Alajuelense. Tomorrow's first
leg in that series will take place as the same time as the Fire-Saprissa
match - 9:00 p.m. CT - at Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto in Alajuela, Costa
Should the Fire advance out of the semifinal series with Saprissa, the
"Men in Red" would play host to the victor of the Alajuelense-Monterrey
series in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions Cup Final, to be held
on Wednesday, May 5. The return leg would be contested on the road one
week later on May 12.
The Fire is 5-2-2 all-time in Champions Cup play, which includes its appearances
in the 1999 and 2002 competitions as well as the current 2004 tournament.
The Fire's best result came in 1999 when it finished tied for third alongside
fellow MLS side D.C. United.
Chicago is attempting to become just the third MLS side to bring the
CONCACAF Champions Cup to the United States. D.C. United became the first
team to capture the regional crown in 1998, while the Los Angeles Galaxy
brought home the title in 2000.
Wednesday's match marks the Fire's second trip to Central America for
a Champions Cup match. The Fire captured a 1-0 victory against Guatemalan
side CSD Municipal at Mateo Flores Stadium in Guatemala City in the first
leg of their Round of 16 series on Mar. 16, 2002. A 2-0 win four days
later at Cardinal Stadium in Naperville allowed the Fire to advance to
that year's quarterfinals.