The Chicago Fire return to Toyota Park for the first of two games this week against high-profile opponents, starting with a visit Wednesday by Real Salt Lake. The Fire are undefeated since Frank Klopas took over as interim head coach, extending their unbeaten streak to five with a 1-1 draw at New England last time out. Real are coming off a late 1-1 home draw against D.C. United last weekend.
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REFEREE: Juan Guzman. SAR (bench): Fabio Tovar; JAR (opposite): Frank Anderson; 4th: Abbey Okulaja
MLS Career: 4 games; FC/gm: 31.5; Y/gm: 3.0; R: 1; pens: 2
CHICAGO FIRE – OUT: MF Mike Banner (L Achilles tendinitis); DF Steven Kinney (R Achilles tendinitis); QUESTIONABLE: MF Marko Maric (L deltoid sprain); MF Logan Pause (R hamstring strain/concussion) …
REAL SALT LAKE – OUT: MF Javier Morales (L ankle fracture dislocation); DOUBTFUL: MF Arturo Alvarez (R hamstring strain); FW Paulo Jr. (L hamstring strain); DF Chris Wingert (R hamstring strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: RSL: Jean Alexandre (through June 22)
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD:
CHI: Dominic Oduro, Daniel Paladini, Gonzalo Segares
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS:
CHI: Diego Chaves, Cory Gibbs, Cristian Nazarit
RSL: Chris Wingert
ALL-TIME (12 meetings): Fire 5 wins, 14 goals … Real 3 wins, 9 goals … Ties 4
AT SALT LAKE (6 meetings): Fire 3 wins, 6 goals … Real 1 win, 3 goals … Ties 2
RETURN MATCH: 9/28: Real Salt Lake vs. Chicago Fire, 7 p.m. MT
LAST YEAR (MLS):
7/8: CHI 0, RSL 1 (Findley 40)
9/18: RSL 1, CHI 0 (Saborio 45)
Real won both meetings last season, extending their unbeaten streak against Chicago to four games in all competitions.
The win last year at Toyota Park was the first ever for RSL. They did win on penalties in the 2009 Eastern Conference Championship, after the game officially ended in a draw.
Coaches record: Jason Kreis v CHI: P8 W2 L2 D4 … Frank Klopas vs. RSL: first game
The Chicago Fire played to a fourth draw in the last five games, ending 1-1 with the New England Revolution on Saturday evening at Gillette Stadium. The Fire have 15 points from 15 matches on the year, sitting in a three-way tie for sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
- Chicago's Dominic Oduro opened the scoring in the 32nd minute. Patrick Nyarko's diagonal ball from a counter located Oduro as he stormed through midfield. Oduro surged toward the penalty area and unleashed a quick shot inside the far post.
- Lekic restored parity three minutes after play resumed after Pat Phelan shot a ball into Rajko Lekic's feet inside the penalty area. The offside flag stayed down and the unmarked Lekic then easily poked home into the far side of the net.
- Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas made one change to the team that defeated the Columbus Crew 1-0 at Crew Stadium. Cristian Nazarit came into the team in place of the departed Gaston Puerari.
- CHICAGO FIRE (4-1-3-2): Sean Johnson - Jalil Anibaba, Cory Gibbs, Yamith Cuesta, Gonzalo Segares - Logan Pause - Dominic Oduro, Baggio Husidic (Daniel Paladini 74), Patrick Nyarko - Cristian Nazarit (Gabriel Ferrari 85), Diego Chaves (Orr Barouch 63).
- Since taking over as interim head coach, Frank Klopas still has yet to see his club lose, now with one win and three draws after taking the reins.
- The New England goal was the first conceded by the Fire in 334 minutes, since the 2-2 home draw with San Jose on May 28.
- “The one thing that we addressed right away is team defending as a group because we were giving opportunities and we adjusted certain areas and tried to stay compact, even though the [New England] game was kind of wide open,” Klopas said. “I just try to give the players confidence and I think that’s the really important thing and let them know that I believe in the team.”
- Since returning to between the posts the San Jose game, goalkeeper Sean Johnson has also not seen the side fall, 1-0-4 since replacing Jon Conway.
- Defensively, I think we were OK. We gave away a couple opportunities but just the same on the other end. We had a few opportunities to score so coming out with a result, I think we’ll be happy with and we’ll move forward as long as we keep chugging away and getting points, especially on the road now,” Johnson said. “Now we’re back home for two games, so I think it’s important to pick up a point, go back home and recoup and get ready to play Salt Lake on Wednesday.”
- With the sale of Gaston Puerari to Atlas of the FMF Mexican Primera Division, Cristian Nazarit returned to the starting lineup; he had started three consecutive games before going to the bench for the win in Columbus.
- Klopas took off both strikers late in the match, bringing on Orr Barouch and then Gabriel Ferrari.
- “They came in and they gave us … more energy and more movement off the ball and just tried to push the favor towards our side and I think we did that and we created chances,” Klopas said. “Unfortunately the ball didn’t go in the net"
- Dominic Oduro scored his third goal in the last six games, returning to the scoresheet after going three games without a goal. Oduro has pulled into a tie for the team lead in goals with Diego Chaves and Marco Pappa.
- “We’ve been working on trying to get the ball into the net in that second half and creating a whole lot of chances,” Oduro said. “I think we should have buried a couple of them - very disappointed in that. But we just have to keep moving forward, just keep working on that and hopefully we get better.”
REAL SALT LAKE
Real Salt Lake saw their winless run reach three games, D.C. United getting a late penalty as the teams ended in a 1-1 draw Saturday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium. RSL sits in a tie for fourth place in the Western Conference, with 22 points from 13 matches.
- RSL took the lead in the 38th minute when United's Clyde Simms was adjusted to have handled the ball in the box. Fabián Espíndola stepped up to the spot and sent goalkeeper Bill Hamid the other way.
- But United found the leveler five minutes from time when Chris Wingert looked to trip up Charlie Davies in the area and referee Terry Vaughn pointed to the spot. The U.S. striker converted the ensuing penalty.
- RSL coach Jason Kreis made two changes to the side that came back for a 1-1 draw with Philadelphia Union at PPL Park. Tony Beltran came in for Robbie Russell in the back, and Collen Warner started for Luis Gil in midfield.
- REAL SALT LAKE (4-1-3-2): Nick Rimando - Tony Beltran, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert (Robbie Russell 85) - Kyle Beckerman - Andy Williams, Collen Warner (Will Johnson 66), Ned Grabavoy - Jean Alexandre, Fabian Espindola (Artur Aghasyan 83).
- The late penalty left Real feeling like the draw was more of a loss. They have just one win in their last seven league games, after opening the season with five victories in their first six.
- "We can talk all we want about the penalty, but I'd rather talk about how it gets there," said RSL coach Jason Kreis. "You don't want to open yourself up to a counterattack when you have a 1-0 lead off a dead ball that's yours. … I think we have to be very disappointed to have kind of the three points wrapped up and then to give away the counterattack and then be at the mercy of the referee's decision."
- Fabian Espindola scored his third goal in the last four matches, leading the club with four league goals on the season.
- Real again had midfielder Will Johnson available, coming off the bench to play 24 minutes after starting all three group games for Canada in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
- Real will also have striker Alvaro Saborio after Costa Rica’s exit from the continental championship.
- “We’re going to continue to do what we did when he was here. We’re going to continue to believe in him, work on the technical aspects of his finishing, and at the end of it he’s going to have to come through this rough patch,” Kreis said of Saborio. “Forwards have rough patches and this one has been a little longer than probably typical for him – and for most guys – but he’ll come through.”
- RSL has scored eight goals in the last 10 league games, after starting the season with seven goals in their first three.
- “Score. I know it sounds silly, but it's true. We could have possessed the ball better, just in general, but that's what happens. I feel like with the way we have been playing, to come out with the 1-0 win would have been great, even though we only scored a goal,” defender Chris Wingert said. “To battle in the second half and come away with the 1-0 win would have been great and, obviously, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth.”