Another game, another Fire starting defender suspended.
This time, Chicago will be without starting center back Cory Gibbs, who is ineligible for Sunday’s must-win match against New England (4 pm ET, TeleFutura) because of a red-card suspension.
Gibbs is the third starting defender suspended in the Fire’s last three games – left back Gonzalo Segares missed the Sept. 10 loss at San Jose and right back Dan Gargan missed last week’s 3-2 win over Chivas USA.
The lack of continuity in the back is making things a little difficult for the Fire, who have given up four goals in their last two games.
“Having to switch three games in a row and having to kind of like change a guy that has played a ton of games for us is always difficult,” Segares told MLSsoccer.com.
Gibbs is a particularly big loss for Chicago’s back line. The veteran center back is the leader of the defense, constantly barking out orders and locking down opponents with his physical style of play.
Josip Mikulic or Yamith Cuesta will do their best to fill in for Gibbs alongside rookie defender Jalil Anibaba on Sunday, but – regardless of how well Gibbs’ replacement plays – the Fire will definitely be missing something on Sunday.
“He’s one of our captains, one of our more vocal guys,” Segares said. “And not only that, I think he’s also one of our most physical guys when he goes to the ball and he imposes a presence. I think that he’s a guy that goes 100 percent to balls and he definitely intimidates forwards.
“We’ll have to somehow try to get somebody to do the same thing; come out hard to the ball and definitely impose the presence that Cory has on the field.”
Though Gibbs won’t be on the field Sunday, the former New England man was able to give his Fire teammates a little bit of insight gleaned from his 2010 season with the Revs.
“Cory told us that every year over there in New England, one of the games that they would always talk about and always circle was us,” Segares said. “It didn’t matter if they lost every other game, they wanted to win against us. So it shows you that there’s always a good rivalry between us. It doesn’t matter what the situation with either team is, it’s always going to be a tough game.”
Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org