Fire set for opening day Saturday at FC Dallas

CHICAGO - The Chicago Fire will kick off its 2005 MLS regular season tomorrow evening on the road in the first installment of this year's Brimstone Cup against archrival FC Dallas. Kick-off at the famed Cotton Bowl in Dallas, TX will take place at 7:30 p.m. CT. The contest will mark the debut of the "Men in Red" on its new broadcast partner, Comcast SportsNet, with a special half-hour pre-game show preceding the match, beginning at 7:00 p.m. CT. Fire fans can also follow the match live via Chicagoland radio stations WRTO 1200 AM (Spanish) and WNVR 1030 AM (Polish), while the CSN simulcast feed will be made available worldwide on the Internet at the team's official website, (English).

Chicago Fire at FC Dallas
Saturday, April 2 @ 7:30 p.m. CT: Cotton Bowl in Dallas, TX
TV: Comcast SportsNet (Pre-Game Show at 7:00 p.m. CT); MLS Direct Kick (Free Preview Weekend): DIRECTV- #793, DISH Network- #462
Satellite: VYVX Conf #1819853
Radio: WRTO 1200 AM (Spanish), WNVR 1030 AM (Polish), (English)

Chicago Fire Recovery Room
Capano, Craig - L torn ACL surgery - Out
Caballero, Samuel - R hamstring strain - Questionable
Guerrero, Mario Ivan - R hamstring strain - Questionable
Sanneh, Tony - R hip and hamstring strain - Out
Thorrington, John - L hamstring strain - Questionable

Series History vs. FC Dallas
The Fire will look to edge closer to the .500 mark in the all-time series against FC Dallas, which currently stands at 11-9-1 in favor of the Texas-based club. Chicago is also hoping to improve upon its record of 2-7-0 at the Cotton Bowl and a 2-8-0 all-time mark in Dallas. The Fire has dropped its last seven games in "Big D," with its last victory in the Lone Star State coming all the way back on July 4, 1999 via a 2-1 result. The Fire and Dallas met once during the 2005 preseason, a match Chicago won 3-1 on Feb. 11 in Bradenton, FL on the strength of goals from Chris Rolfe, Kelly Gray and Will John.

Fire Looks to Roll in Opening Credits
The Fire is used to getting a good start out of the gate, as Chicago has dropped only one of its previous seven MLS season openers while compiling a 3-1-3 record to start off the season. The "Men in Red" have posted a similar 3-1-3 mark in road openers, including last year's 0-0 result to begin MLS play at the Kansas City Wizards on Apr. 3, 2004. 2005 marks the second time Chicago and FC Dallas have opened the season against each other, with the first resulting in the Fire's lone opening day loss, a 4-2 defeat at the Cotton Bowl on Mar. 18, 2000. The Fire's last win in a regular season opener came on Mar. 23, 2002, when the Fire blanked the Columbus Crew 2-0 at Crew Stadium.

Men in Blue? Fire to Debut PUMA's Chicago Flag Third Kit Saturday
When tuning in to the Fire-FC Dallas match tomorrow there will be no need to adjust your TV set, even though you might not recognize either squad from the last time they were on the field. The Fire will be debuting their newly designed PUMA third kits during Saturday's season opener in Dallas, which pay homage to the world-famous City of Chicago flag. The full ensemble features a light blue top with four red stars, white shorts and light blue socks. On the other side of the field, FC Dallas will be showing off their revamped look, donning a new red-and-white hoop-style uniform as the squad officially takes the field for the first time since changing their name at the end of the 2004 season.

Quick Kicks vs. FC Dallas

  • After starting only one match together in 2004, Fire captain Chris Armas and fellow "Fire Original" Jesse Marsch are slated to start the season in the middle of the field for tomorrow's season opener, something that hasn't happened since the 2002 season.

  • Of the 27 players on the Fire's opening day roster, 13 of them are new to the squad. The group of newcomers includes seven 2005 draftees, five foreign players and eight players that have prior international experience playing for either professional clubs or their respective youth or senior national teams.

  • Only Kelly Gray (1) and Nate Jaqua (1) have scored goals against FC Dallas with the Fire, while midfielders Chris Armas (5), Justin Mapp (1) and Jesse Marsch (1) and defender C.J. Brown (1) are the only active players to have notched an assist against Dallas.

  • Once again, the Chicago Fire ranks as one of the youngest teams in Major League Soccer heading into the 2005 campaign. The typical member of the "Men in Red" will be 24 years and 289 years of age as of Saturday's opener, ranking behind only the Los Angeles Galaxy (24 years, 263 days) and D.C. United (24 years, 283 days). The collective roster of the Fire is hours - if not minutes - ahead of the MetroStars in the category (24.791 years for the Fire to the Metros' 24.792 years).