Weekly update: Big bad Crew ahead

Pivotal Week Ahead for "Men in Red"
After its crucial 2-0 win over the New England Revolution last Saturday at Soldier Field, the Chicago Fire (8-11-8, 32 pts.) is preparing for yet another important match, this time facing the Eastern Conference leading Columbus Crew (11-5-10, 43 pts.) in back-to-back games beginning this Saturday, Oct. 2 from Crew Stadium in Columbus, OH. The match kicks off at 6:30 p.m. CT and will be televised live via FSN and can also be followed online via Saturday's match will mark the third meeting against Columbus in the four-game regular season series, with the remaining encounter set for Wednesday, Oct. 6 at Soldier Field in the Fire's home season finale (7:30 p.m. CT). The Fire, which is 12-7-3 all-time against the Crew, will be looking for its first win against Columbus this season, having lost the two previous encounters (1-3 on May 23 and 0-2 on July 3).

While the Crew, MetroStars and Kansas City Wizards have already clinched a playoff spot, the Fire will be looking to join this group on Saturday night. In order to do so, Dave Sarachan's squad must not only defeat the Crew, but also hope that the New England Revolution loses or ties its game against Dallas over the weekend. With three games remaining, the Fire - one of only two teams to make the MLS Cup Playoffs in each year of its existence - currently leads the Revolution by five points for the fourth and final postseason spot in the Eastern Conference.

Chicago Fire AthletiCo Sports Medicine Injury Report
Armas, Chris - R arthroscopic knee surgery - probable
Mapp, Justin - R knee Grade II LCL Sprain - out
Pause, Logan - R foot stress fracture - doubtful
Razov, Ante - R arthroscopic ankle surgery - out

Herron Starts Out With a Bang-or Two
To the delight of 20,383 fans, Costa Rican international Andy Herron made his home debut in Chicago by scoring both Fire goals to help the "Men in Red" to a convincing 2-0 victory over the New England Revolution Saturday night at Soldier Field. With his performance, the 26-year-old Herron joined Hristo Stoitchkov as the only players in Fire history to score a pair of goals in their first MLS starts. Herron made his MLS debut on Sept. 18, coming in as a second-half substitute and playing 45 minutes in the Fire's 3-1 loss to DC United at RFK Stadium. Acquired by the Fire as a Discovery player on Aug. 31, Herron is currently on loan from Costa Rican team Herediano. Herron helped Herediano to Costa Rica's Torneo Clausura title in 2004 while also leading the league in scoring with 12 goals and 13 assists. Equally impressive with the Costa Rican National Team, he has scored four goals in 13 contests with the "Ticos," including a pair of goals in a 5-2 loss against Honduras on Aug. 18 in a CONCACAF World Cup qualifying match.

Armas, Williams to Serve One-Game Suspensions
The Fire will be missing two of its finest leaders Saturday night at Columbus, as Fire captain Chris Armas and midfielder Andy Williams will be serving one-game suspensions after picking up yellow cards in last weekend's contest against the Revolution. The suspension is unfortunate for Armas, who made a brilliant return to the Fire lineup last Saturday, just three weeks after undergoing surgery on his right knee. The 32-year-old midfield maestro assisted on both of Andy Herron 's goals Saturday night. Williams, the Fire's assist leader who also assisted on one of Herron's goals Saturday, went over the caution point limit with his yellow card in the 80th minute and as a consequence will not travel to Columbus.

Lunch Served
The Chicago Fire Media Relations Department will host its final media luncheon of the season on Wednesday, Sept. 29 following the team's practice session at its Lake Forest College training facility at 12:00 p.m. CT. All Fire players and coaches will be available for the media in attendance immediately after training or during the Luncheon inside the old Halas Hall.

For the Record:
"This was an important game for us. Three points was huge and it was great to have Chris [Armas] back on the field, no question about it. Obviously Andy Herron's debut was a beauty. He's a real forward and good around the goal and that combination played out real well. It was not a pretty game, but sometimes you have to win that way." - Fire Head Coach Dave Sarachan following the Fire's 2-0 win over New England in Costa Rican forward Andy Herron's home debut.

Fire Invites Media to 2004 Hispanic Heroes Reception on Sept. 29 at Luna Mexicana Restaurant
The Chicago Fire would like to extend an invitation to Chicagoland media outlets to attend this year's Fire Hispanic Heroes reception, which will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 29 at Luna Mexicana Restaurant, located at 3565 W. Fullerton in Chicago. Doors will open at 6:00 p.m. CT, with a program beginning at 6:30 p.m., and dinner being served at 7:00 p.m. This year's event will honor the collection of 50 Chicagoland Hispanic citizens recognized for their contributions to the Latin community, a group that was first announced at the Fire's Budweiser Hispanic Heritage Night celebration at Soldier Field on Sept. 4. To learn more information on the Hispanic Heroes Reception or to RSVP for the event, please contact Everett Gutierrez in the Chicago Fire office at 312-705-7219 by Friday, Sept. 24.

FireWorks for Kids Foundation to Host First Annual Golf Marathon Challenge for Charity on Oct. 4
The FireWorks for Kids Foundation - the Fire's charitable arm - has announced that it will hold the first-ever FireWorks for Kids Foundation Golf Marathon Challenge for Charity on Monday, Oct. 4 at the Ruffled Feathers Golf Club in Lemont, IL. A maximum of 36 participants will be expected to finish one hundred holes of golf from sunrise to sunset to raise money for the FWFK Foundation during the pledge-based fundraising event. In the weeks leading up to the event, golfers will be asked to post a $100 refundable entry fee, which will be returned to the participant upon the commitment of a minimum of $2,500 in pledges. Green fees, a golf cart, golf balls, tees, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and drinks will all be provided to the golfers throughout the day, and golfers that turn in a commitment card with their $100 refundable fee will receive a FWFK golf vest or pullover. Pledges above and beyond $2,500 will make participants eligible for prizes, which have yet to be determined. For more information on the FWFK Foundation Golf Marathon Challenge for Charity or to register for the event, please contact the FWFK office at 312-705-7260 or 312-705-7218.


  • The Fire family would like to congratulate Fire D/M Evan Whitfield on his 100th game played with Chicago. Whitfield reached the milestone last Saturday when he started and played in the Fire's 2-0 victory over the Revolution at Soldier Field. He becomes the seventh player in Fire history to accomplish the feat.
  • The Fire's Mexican League sister club Monarcas Morelia picked up their first victory of the 2004 COMEX Apertura season last weekend, defeating the Dorados of Sinaloa 3-2 at Morelos Stadium. Midfielder Rafael Marquez tallied the game-winning goal for Morelia in the 53rd minute. The win improves Monarcas' record to 1-4-2 and five points. Morelia is preparing for a midweek encounter against Club America Wednesday, Sept. 29 at 8:30 p.m. CT from Azteca Stadium in Mexico City.

  • Stay connected: Get access to breaking news, videos, and analysis from North America's best soccer reporters via "This Week in MLS" newsletter or using our FREE mobile app.