The Fire head back home Sunday afternoon after picking up a hard fought point in Kansas last weekend. Though the team didn't score for the third game in a row, the solid performance despite missing key players was encouraging. Sunday’s opposition Chivas USA come to Bridgeview full of confidence after picking up four points in their last two games. Here are some things to look out for from a tactical perspective on Sunday (Coverage at 3:30pm CT on My50)
High pressure - Chivas players will not stop running
El Chelís, the new Chivas coach, has his team playing a 3-4-3 system with an emphasis on pressuring the opposing team very high up the field. Anyone who has watched Barcelona under Pep Guardiola/Tito Vilanova or Athletic Club under Marcelo Bielsa knows that the high pressure tactic can be very effective, especially against an opponent who is not prepared for it.
Chivas’ three attacking players hound their opponents' defense and try to not allow them to play out of the back. This tactic will put a lot of pressure on suspected midfield starters Daniel Paladini and Jeff Larentowicz to drop deep and collect the ball from the defenders. The goal of the 3-4-3 with the high pressure is to try and win the ball back from your opponent as high up the pitch as possible.
A recent example of this tactic working to perfection was in Chivas' only win to date in week two against FC Dallas. The winning goal came from forcing the Dallas defensive midfielder into playing a suicide ball back to center back George John whose lax first touch allowed Oswaldo Minda to waltz in and score. With this tactic in mind, concentration and communication between the defense and the central midfielders will be very important Sunday.
Balls over the top/in behind - how to beat the 3-4-3
Previewing Chivas USA
The downside of Chivas 3-4-3 tactic is that it leaves a lot of space on the outside for the Fire to exploit. In Chivas’ last two games against LA and Dallas, the wingers got caught too far up the field on multiple occasions, especially when the opposition was able to force a turnover and transition quickly into attack.
In recent games for the Fire, wingers Dilly Duka and Patrick Nyarko have been required to help out the defense but against Chivas they will find that space will be a lot easier to come by and should be looking to make forward runs into space whenever possible. The Fire must look for the long ball into space constantly because getting a ball in behind can really open Chivas up.
When the Fire inevitably get a ball in behind, they must get more players into the box, especially against a three man back line. In Chivas' opening games, often times it was a defender who had to drift wide to pick up the runner, leaving less numbers and more space in the middle for the opposing team to exploit.
Fouls fouls and more fouls - Fire must stay calm and focused
In Chivas' last two games, they have committed a whopping 40 fouls, something that clearly frustrated their opponents. Part of the reason for that many fouls is the high pressure tactic, trying so frantically to win the ball back, leading oftentimes to a foul.
That being said, another key aspect of Chelís' tactics is to try and stop the other team from getting in any sort of rhythm. How do you do that? By fouling your opponent and slowing the game down, of course.
When a Chivas player is beaten by his man, the natural response is to foul the player. The LA/Dallas players and coaching staff were constantly yelling at the officials for the amount of fouls Chivas committed, but this frustration played right into Chivas' hands.
On the other side of the ball, when Chivas attack, they often look to pick up set pieces in their opponents half. Their players hit the deck when they feel the slightest bit of contact, another aspect of their game plan that can really get under the skin of the opponent. The Fire players and coaching staff must keep their cool, especially if the score line isn't to their liking, because despite their coaches claims to the contrary, Chivas would gladly leave Bridgeview with a point.
Prediction: 2-0 Fire with goals from Chris Rolfe and Dilly Duka.
Stephen Piggott is a contributor to Chicago-Fire.com. Follow him on Twitter @irish_steve
This day 15 years ago the Chicago Fire played their first-ever competitive match defeating the Miami Fusion 2-0 at Lockhart Stadium in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Roman Kosecki scored the first goal in Fire history in the 76th minute while the team's first round draft pick Ritchie Kotschau opened his professional account in the 87th minute.
See highlights of the match below:
Fire head coach Frank Klopas did his first media round-up of the week on Wednesday. Some choice quotes from this afternoon's session:
On Paolo Tornaghi's experience stepping in for Sean Johnson last season
"He basically came in at that point as a younger third keeper but he won that second position in preseason and the games that he played. We had a veteran guy as our number two, knowing that Sean had Olympic qualifying games, you saw that he was the one that started in the first game in Montreal.
"We have all the confidence in him, he’s played well and we know we’re going in a situation with World Cup qualifying and Sean being with the national team, its great for him but we have all the confidence in Paolo in moments like this to step in and do a good job because he’s very good ‘keeper."
On Bakary Soumare’s comments regarding his desire for a trade to the Fire
"With the salary cap and what teams want for players, it’s not always so easy. I know Baky very well, he spent a long time here and I saw that. It’s great when you treat guys in the right way, they feel this is always their team. There's always a lot of implications but you look into every situation for sure."
On the team’s outlook to bring in a striker before the summer transfer window
"We’re looking at everything. Any opportunity to see if we improve the team we’re going to look at it. You might feel there will be need somewhere, players might become available but the needs might be something different. We’re looking at all that but also knowing that it’s early in the season."
On the personality of Chivas USA coach Jose Luis Sanchez Sola
"I don’t know the guy. It seems like he has the team on the right track and they’re working hard and he’s done a good job so far. Other than that, I don’t know. He’s a competitive guy just like I am."
We're happy to introduce a new video series to Chicago-Fire.com called "Both Sides of the Badge".
This week we talk to Daniel Paladini about his devotion to the club's supporters and ask him to do his best Frank Klopas impression:
If It seems like its Goalkeeper Week here on Chicago-Fire.com, well maybe it is... Sean Johnson is with the U.S. Men's National Team, meaning Paolo Tornaghi is the starter on Sunday, making way for Alec Kann to officially sign with the club on Tuesday in order to back him up.
I got a lot of quotes from goalkeepers (and their coach) the past few days... It'd be a shame if they went to waste so I've included some of the more interesting ones here...
Chicago FIre goalkeeping coach Aron Hyde
On having two returning goalkeepers for the first time since 2009
"Its never easy in MLS with the salary cap to maintain players year-to-year. In previous years we’ve looked to experienced guys to guide Sean along in his development and this year we didn’t need that. We’ve got a very young goalkeeping group – its probably the youngest in the league. Sean’s not a young goalkeeper anymore –he’s at nearly 80 games in his career. We don’t have any issues there anymore. Obviously he can get a little more continuity in the group and Paolo is a good goalkeeper and is more than capable of stepping in. He didn’t let the side down last year and we’re positive and optimistic he’ll do the same on Sunday."
On Alec Kann's attitude as the third goalkeeper
"He’s coming in willing to learn. He has a good attitude, he works hard – you can’t fault him for anything there. He’s a good guy to work with. He’s been good with the other two and you hope he realizes he’s here to push and he wants to play as well. He has to be ready."
Chicago Fire goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi
On communicating with a changing backline
"Its important when everyone steps on the field to have a positive performance. I thought our defensive line was very good on Saturday. We work together every day so to me it doesn’t matter who the first 11 are, all the players train and stay focused to be ready for Sunday."
So if you're like me, you were watching Sunday's SuperClasico between LA and Chivas to get a better understanding of the Fire's upcoming opponents.
Around the 40th minute, you were sort of shocked to see the Goats Joaquin Velazquez sent off by referee Ricardo Salazar for this play…
If anything, Colin Clark could have received a card on the play but nonetheless, Chivas was forced to play the remaining 50 minutes a man down and still found away to earn a 1-1 draw against the reigning MLS Cup champs.
Flash forward to today and an Independent Review panel has rightly rescinded the red card and the one-game suspension that came along with it for this Sunday's match vs. the Fire.
This is the second time in MLS history that a red card has been rescinded. The New England Revolution's Fernando Cardenas saw his red card taken away after he was sent off in a 2-1 loss to Seattle last May.
What do you think? Is it good that the league is willing to rescind red cards when obvious mistakes are being made? Chime in below.
Twitter is great for many reasons. Today's its awesome because we got an update on how the team's star center back is doing on his hamstring rehab in Germany...
— Arne Friedrich (@arnefriedrich) March 18, 2013
See you next Tuesday, Arne!
Select shots from Saturday's 0-0 draw vs. Sporting Kansas City
Credit: USA Today Sports Images
A nice reminder of June 29, 2012.
The Fire head to Kansas City Saturday afternoon (2:00pm CT on NBC Sports Network) on the back of two losses to start the season. The team has yet to score a goal or secure point but face a KC team smarting after a loss in Toronto last week. Both will be looking to kick start their season with a big win. Here are some tactical things to look out for.
Right back – three games, three different starters?
With injuries to both Logan Pause and Steven Kinney, it is likely the Fire will have to start a third different right back already this season. Jalil Anibaba started on the right against LA and had a difficult time of things but looked much more comfortable in his natural position at center back last week against New England.
With Kinney out, its almost assured that Anibaba will partner with Austin Berry in the middle which means we will likely see Mike Videra or Wells Thompson on the right. Both played there for a bit of preseason and Videra played at right back for the Men in Red during the 2011 season.
Previewing Sporting KC
Wells is the more experienced player and like Pause, has played in numerous positions during his MLS career. In a hostile atmosphere away from home, communication between the defenders will be key.
KC are particularly dangerous down the wings and Patrick Nyarko will need to be on hand to help out either Thompson or Videra who will face constant overlapping by the KC wing-backs.
Pressuring KC – copy the Toronto model
Sporting KC lost 2-1 in Toronto last week falling behind 2-0 after only twenty minutes. TFC pressured Sporting from the first whistle and it worked extremely well, with SKC constantly giving the ball away.
TFC’s first goal of the game came from pressuring and ganging up on the Sporting KC players. Folks will remember the goal stemming from a bad pass between Matt Besler and Aurelian Collin, but the reason the center backs had the ball at all was because TFC forced Sporting all the way back to their defenders.
TFC clearly flustered Sporting and the pressure prevented SKC from being able to get the ball to their danger men Claudio Bieler and Graham Zusi. Toronto was unable to keep up the pressure for more than the first half and in the second, KC was able to impose their game.
If the Fire can start in a similar fashion to TFC last week and sustain the pressure throughout the game (a tough ask, I know) it would go a long way towards allowing SKC to dictate the tempo, something they will look to do as the home team.
Testing Jimmy Neilson – difference between chances and half chances
A lot of the talk after the first two games of the season was that the Fire created many chances, but were unable to finish them. If we examine the amount of genuine saves Carlo Cudicini and Matt Reis actually had to make though, the numbers are very small, both have to overexert themselves on only one occasion, with the rest of the shots being hit right at them.
Both times the Fire forced the opposition ‘keeper into making a fine save was from shots outside the box. When the Fire do get the ball in the box, the team as a whole needs to start showing a bit of composure instead of rushing shots.
Muzzling Zusi – double teaming and picking him up when he comes inside
For the past few seasons, Graham Zusi has been Sporting’s best player by some margin. Zusi is dangerous because he can hurt you in so many different ways.
He’s comfortable playing outside on the wing and is just as effective when he switches wings as he did against TFC in the second half last week. Zusi also links very well with SKC’s outside backs, especially Chance Meyers who overlaps Zusi on a regular basis and picked up a lot of assists doing so last season.
Coach's Take: Sporting KC
Zusi also likes to cut inside, opening up more space on the outside for the wing-backs to move into. For the most part, TFC did a good job stifling Zusi last week and they did so mainly by double teaming him when he had the ball.
Zusi’s crossing is arguably his most dangerous weapon and with targets such as Bieler and Sapong lurking in the box, the less crosses the Fire allow, the better.
Prediction: The games in KC have been tight affairs recently, and I don’t see this one being any different. 1-1 Fire with a goal from Chris Rolfe.
Stephen Piggott is a contributor to Chicago-Fire.com. Follow him on Twitter @irish_steve.