Chicago Fire (6-7-6, 5th in the East) vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (13-5-4, 1st in the West)
All-time record: Series tied 15-15-3
4 p.m. ET on TeleFutura
Saturday’s match is a crucial one for both teams, albeit for different reasons. Chicago, five points behind San Jose for the eighth and final playoff spot, need a win to keep their postseason hopes alive. First-place LA don’t share the same concern – their playoff odds are good – but they’ll be looking to play well and put an end to a two-game losing streak.
WATCH: Fire vs. Galaxy preview
The Fire will be missing two of their most important attackers in Freddie Ljungberg (yellow-card suspension) and Marco Pappa (international duty) this weekend. Despite that fact, they remain confident they’ll be able to push forward successfully against the Galaxy – against whom they scored three goals in a 3-2 win on Aug. 1 at the Home Depot Center.
“We’re going to lose a lot [without Ljungberg and Pappa],” Fire winger Patrick Nyarko told MLSsoccer.com. “But there are a lot of guys on this team that can step in and get the job done.”
Los Angeles Galaxy
LA come to Toyota Park with revenge on their minds. The Galaxy were embarrassed by the Fire in the teams’ first meeting – conceding three goals in the first 20 minutes in last month’s loss.
If they are to avenge that defeat, the Galaxy back four will have to improve. They have conceded 11 goals in their last 7 games, after conceding just 5 goals in their first 15 matches. Veteran Gregg Berhalter's absence has been a key to the recent slide, and although he trained lightly this week, he did not travel with the team to Chicago for the match.
But the side will have starting goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, who will not report for international with Jamaica until after the match.
Furthermore, the Galaxy have struggled to score in recent weeks, notching just one goal in their previous three league matches. Star Landon Donovan has not scored a goal in the run of play since before the World Cup, a stretch that goes back eight games.
“There’s a natural tendency in sports when you get a big lead to take your foot off the gas a bit,” Donovan said of the club's struggles. “We’re certainly at fault for that. But now, we’re right in the thick of it. Now, that doesn’t mean we’re not going to be in the playoffs, it doesn’t mean that we’re still not going to have a good year, but if we’re going to be as good as we can be, we need to be a lot better.”
Heroes & Villains
Landon Donovan vs. Logan Pause: Edson Buddle may have more goals, but Donovan remains the key to LA’s offense. American soccer’s poster boy runs the Galaxy attack with speed and precision, creating problems for opposing defenses all across the league.
Fire defensive midfielder Pause should see a lot of Donovan – who often drifts into the center of the midfield – and he’ll have to keep the Galaxy’s playmaker in check for the Fire to get a win. Expect Pause to play Donovan tightly and physically come Saturday afternoon.
Stat that makes you go “Hm...”
The Galaxy have not won a game this year after conceding the first goal.