Chicago Fire (2-3-3, 4th place in Eastern Conference) vs. FC Dallas (2-2-5, 7th place in Western Conference) at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill.
All-time record: Dallas lead the series 18-11-2
8 p.m. ET, ESPN 2, ESPN Deportes
What’s at stake?
The Fire and FC Dallas renew their Brimstone Cup rivalry with the first of two meetings on the year. The teams split the season series last year, with the Fire winning 3-1 at FC Dallas and Dallas blasting Chicago 3-0 at Toyota Park. Both sides, lagging in their respective conference races, need a result.
FC Dallas dismantled the Fire 3-0 last May at Toyota Park. Dallas, who had come into the game with the worst record in the league, took the match to the previously unbeaten Fire. Forward Jeff Cunningham opened the scoring in the 15th minute when he headed in a corner kick. Fire center back C.J. Brown scored an own-goal in the 35th. FCD forward Kenny Cooper completely sealed the match in the 80th minute, when he fired a 20-yard free kick into the upper 90.
Heroes and villains
Jeff Cunningham vs. Wilman Conde: First it was Colorado’s Omar Cummings finding the back of the net against the Fire. Then Kansas City’s Kei Kamara scored twice against Chicago. Now speedy Dallas forward Cunningham will look to pick up where his quick counterparts left off. Fire center back Conde will likely see a lot of Cunningham on Thursday night, when a lot will be riding on whether or not the Fire’s big Colombian defender can shut down the veteran forward.
Logan Pause vs. Dax McCarty: Whichever team controls the middle of the field in this match should do well. The battle between Pause – Chicago’s defensive mid – and McCarty – Dallas’ attack-minded center midfielder – should go a long way towards determining which team wins that battle. Pause – who will be moving back to center mid following his start at right back in the Fire’s friendly against Legia Warsaw – will have to do a good job on the creative minded McCarty, who has a goal and an assist on the year.
Stat that makes you go, “Hmm”
FC Dallas have won each of the last six times its visited Chicago. The streak, which FC Dallas will look to extend to seven on Thursday, dates back to 2003.
He said it
“We’re worrying about ourselves. We know what kind of team they are – they’ve got some good ,effective players – but right now, we’re just trying to take the positives out of the last couple games and continue to progress.” – Fire midfielder Logan Pause on what the Fire is focusing on heading into Thursday night’s match