MLS Regular Season
Happy Tuesday Matchday! The Chicago Fire travel to Houston for their first-ever match at BBVA Compass Stadium tonight at 7:30pm CT LIVE on NBC 5.2 (Channel Finder) and 97.5FM ESPN Deportes Radio.
Here are five things to know heading into tonight’s Fourth of July-eve match…
PREVIEW: Fire at Dynamo
I remember my 15th birthday like it was yesterday. I woke up early and went to the DMV with my mom to secure my Learner’s Permit – gaining the ability to drive (with supervision) was a true right of passage growing up just outside of the Motor City.
We started last Friday by posting this video counting down Games #13-15 on our list. We’ll have a video each week in the above categories as we lead up to our 15th Anniversary celebration to be held Wednesday, October 3 against the Philadelphia Union at Toyota Park.
#Fire15: Memorable Matches 13-15
1) FIRE LOVE NBC SPORTS… If you didn’t already know, tonight’s match can be seen LIVE on NBC Sports Network and that’s a good thing for the Fire. The side has won both previous matches on the national sports network earlier this season (3-2 at Toronto April 21; 3-1 vs. New York June 17) and had three different players score in both matches. Will the good ride on NBC Sports continue tonight?
Five things you should know ahead of tonight’s match against the Columbus Crew at Toyota Park (Pre-game on NBC 5.2 beginning at 7pm, radio broadcast on ESPN Deportes 97.5 FM beginning at 7:30pm).
"Soccer is a game about goals. It's a low scoring sport. We love it dearly -- when goals are scored, they need to be given." - NBC Sports Play-by-Play Announcer Arlo White's immediate comments following the above instance from Sunday's match vs. New York.
The idea of goalline technology has likely been floated since Geoff Hurst's "not-so hat-trick performance" for England in the 1966 FIFA World Cup Final but that was the 60's and this is now.
The above photo clearly shows former Fire defender and current Red Bull player Wilman Conde working to deny Dominic Oduro's 64th minute strike in Sunday's 3-1 victory over Red Bull. It was just the first instance this week of a ball clearly crossing the line without a goal being given (see also Ukraine vs. England on Tuesday).
"That’s never happened to me," said Oduro this week. "Obviously I think they missed the whole thing. I thought it was a goal, everyone thought it was a goal except for the two officials. Its my first time having a goal that was so obvious be disallowed."
Had it stood, it would have given the Fire a 2-1 lead as well as counted as the Oduro's fifth of the MLS campaign and first since a 2-1 victory over Sporting KC on May 12.
After the ball crossed the line, the Fire striker's celebration quickly turned to disbelief as the farside linesman denied the goal.
"It was a little heartbreaking for me," he continued. "I needed that going forward, just getting back on track scoring goals and it didn’t happen. My emotions were really high and I got a yellow card. It was all in the heat of the moment."
You might say that the missed call helped rile the team up more as four minutes later Gonzalo Segares slammed home what would be the go-ahead goal after Oduro dug a ball out in the box from Red Bull 'keeper Ryan Meara. In the 81st minute, substitute forward Chris Rolfe iced the match with a tap-in off a beautiful run up the right from Patrick Nyarko.
"At the end of the day, I’m glad we were able to pull it back, score two and get the win."
Having gone through the whole experience, the Ghanaian attacker sees the addition of goal-line technology, which MLS Commissioner Don Garber has shown an interest in for the league, would be a good move.
"I think implementing goal line technology would be the best course going forward. I’m not saying we should stop the whole game and have a replay but to just have something that tells you right away whether or not the ball crossed the line would be a positive. We’re all humans, sometimes referees get it wrong. Sometimes the line of sight is blocked. I don’t think any soccer player would disagree on that.”
Except maybe Wilman Conde...?
On Tuesday we began encouraging Fire fans to use the hashtag #VoteFIRE in tweets to spread awareness for the Twitter MLS All-Star vote that begins Thursday as well as have a little friendly competition with our rival and Saturday's opponent Columbus.
As of our last tally, there have been over 1,100 tweets mentioning #VoteFIRE in the past 24 hours. Before kickoff Saturday, we will calculate the results between the two teams to determine a winner.
We certainly wish to thank the fans for their support, but the election season has just begun. Tomorrow will mark a shift in our campaign focus as we push you to the Twitter polls to vote Pappa, Pardo, Oduro, Johnson, Segares and Grazzini.
To make it easier, we wanted to make sure everyone knew how a Twitter vote was counted.
1) Your Twitter account must be unlocked
2) You must follow @MLS
3a) You must mention the player's full name, "Marco Pappa", "Pavel Pardo", "Dominic Oduro", "Sean Johnson", "Gonzalo Segares", "Sebastian Grazzini"
4) You must include the #MLSAllStar hashtag
5) You don't need to use #VoteFire but you should as we continue our Twitter battle with Columbus!
To push your drive to the polls on Thursday, here are some of our favorite #VoteFire tweets from the past 24 hours, via Storify.
Fire fans get ready to beat the Crew not only on the pitch this weekend but via Twitter!
This week, we're encouraging fans to use the hashtag #VoteFIRE to help spread the word and get out and vote for the Men in Red for MLS All-Star on July 25th in Philadelphia. The Columbus Crew will be using the hashtag #VoteCREW during the same time and just before kickoff on Saturday, June 23rd we will calculate the results between the two teams to see who's the winner.
Use the button below to Tweet your support!
If it seems like it’s been ages since one of these, that’s because it’s been 15 days since the last time the Fire played. A 2-0 loss in New England combined with a two-week break from action left the team as well as yours truly antsy. Lucky for us, the Fire are back this afternoon as they welcome the New York Red Bulls to Toyota Park at 4pm CT (LIVE on NBC Sports Network).
With that, five things to know about today’s match vs. Energy Drink FC.
1) LACKING IN THE STARS… Excitement at having the Fire back is one thing but if you were hoping to see the stars come out of the woodwork for Red Bull this afternoon, you’ll be sorely disappointed as both Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez didn’t make the trip due to injury.
On the Fire side, the long-term projection was to have Arne Friedrich back from a hamstring injury that’s kept him out of the team’s past four league matches. It appears the decision on whether or not he'll play will be of the gametime variety.
2) NO HENRY, FORMATION SHAKEUP… The strike partnership of Henry and forward Kenny Cooper has been deadly for Red Bull this season with the two combining for 20 goals in 22 joint appearances so far. When Henry has been out, Red Bull has moved to a 4-5-1 with Cooper alone up top and the likes of Joel Lindpere and Dane Richards providing support.
Still, it will be Cooper that is the focal point of Red Bull’s attack Sunday. The former FC Dallas striker is tied with San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski in the MLS Golden Boot Race at 11 and has tallied in each of the team’s last four matches.
3) COOPER, LINDPERE: GOAL SCORING HISTORY… Both players have histories of scoring against the Fire, with Cooper tallying six goals (all with Dallas) in nine career matches against the Men in Red while Lindpere has bagged three goals in four appearances since joining Red Bull in 2010.
Conversely, Fire forward Chris Rolfe, who looks set to make his first appearance at Toyota Park since re-joining the club in April has tallied six of his 36 career MLS goals against Red Bull.
4) LAST TIME PAPPA RETURNED IN SUMMER… Fire midfielder Marco Pappa returned to the team on Thursday after being away with the Guatemalan national side for friendlies and two FIFA World Cup qualifiers, culminating in his 82nd minute free kick to earn a 1-1 draw with the United States on Tuesday.
It reminded me of last year when Pappa returned from competitive June matches with Guatemala at the CONCACAF Gold Cup…In his first game back, he hit a bouncing 58th minute effort to draw a Sunday afternoon affair level at 1-1. The day, June 26, 2011. The opponent, Red Bull New York.
5) A RUBBER MATCH… Since a 2-0 win in the the Grand Opening match at Toyota Park on June 25, 2006, the Fire have never lost to Red Bull at the team’s soccer-specific stadium, going 5-0-3 in eight regular season matches.
On the flip, Red Bull comes into the game riding a six match unbeaten run, going 5-0-1 since dropping a 4-1 defeat at Eastern Conference leaders D.C. United on April 22…
6) HAPPY FATHER'S (and Mother's) DAY... Both my parents are awesome. I didn't have a Five Things to write on Mother's Day last month so I'll use this opportunity to wish my Dad Happy Father's Day and my Mom a Happy belated online Mother's Day wish. Both of my parents didn't always understand the obsession I had with soccer but they were always supportive and have been there for me throughout. Thank you both, sorry I can't be home today!
PREVIEW: Fire vs. Red Bulls
I've been lucky enough to travel to Boston (lets be honest, we're in Foxbrough, Mass.) for tonight's match away to New England. Be sure to catch the pre-game with Dan Kelly and Evan Whitfield at 6pm CT with continuing coverage at 6:30pm on Comcast SportsNet Chicago or listen along with Oscar Guzman and Ysaac Alvarez on 97.5FM ESPN Deportes Radio.
With that, Five Things You Should Know About Tonight's Match at New England...
1) IT'S RAINY HERE (see above)... Working on the Mexico/Bosnia Herzegovina friendly Thursday night at Soldier Field made me feel a sense of relief that soccer stats have always been in my blood. That's mainly because it meant I wouldn't have to be outside in the miserable downpour on display that night. It seems we couldn't get enough of the rain as we headed east yesterday to make sure we got to experience it again. There's no doubt there will be rain tonight which will make the ball skip a lot on the Gillette Stadium turf.
2) IN CASE YOU WERE LIVING UNDER A ROCK yesterday, Fire head coach Frank Klopas told reporters that Chris Rolfe is available for selection for tonight's game against the Revs. Last week he traveled to Columbus and Detroit but wasn't part of the 18. Tonight he is, though given the turf and the rainy conditions, it'll be interesting to see if he's used. No one goes into the gameday 18 if they can't be called upon, so tonight could be Chris Rolfe's re-debut and whenever that occurs, he'll be making his 150th competitive appearance for the Chicago Fire.
3) ONE PLAYER THE FIRE are without tonight is Marco Pappa. The midfielder joined up with the Guatemalan national team last Sunday for a pair of preparation friendlies vs. Costa Rica this week ahead of next week's World Cup qualifying matches at Jamaica (June 8) and against the United States (June 12).
4) DEVASTATING DEFEATS... While the Fire were devastated to lose 3-2 in overtime Tuesday to the Michigan Bucks in the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the Revolution had their own troubles that night. Playing 90 minutes of scoreless soccer vs. USL-Pro's Harrisburg City Islanders, the Revs ran out to a 3-0 lead in the first 15 minutes of extra time with goals coming from Kelyn Rowe (95'), Lee Nguyen (101') and Benny Feilhaber (103'). Most surprisingly, the host side responded just before the extra time break when ironically former Bucks player Brian Ombiji made it 3-1 in the 111th minute. Their backs against the wall, Harrisburg grabbed two more goals in the second frame from Sainey Touray (117') and a 120th minute equalizer from J.T. Noone to send the match to penalties.
From there, New England saw two of their goal scorers in the match (Rowe and Feilhaber) fail to convert their kicks with former Fire goalkeeper Nick Noble making the winning save on the latter's take to send the City Islanders through to the next round with surely one of the most dramatic wins in Open Cup history.
Are there levels to devastation? Sure, but in the cases of both the Fire and Revs tonight, it will be interesting to see how much losses at midweek to lower-level sides effect psyche.
5) UNBEATEN SINCE 2007... The Fire and Revs had played a lot over the years... MLS Regular Season, MLS Cup Playoffs, U.S. Open Cup, even the ill-fated SuperLiga have led the Fire to play the Revs more than any other MLS team. Tonight will be the two team's 60th competitive meeting. Through those matches a real rivalry, not one manufactured by a team's front office, has been built. While the dislike for each other mainly comes from heated playoff matches, the Fire have sort of a regular season hex over the Revs, holding a 10-match unbeaten run (7-0-3) since last losing to New England 3-1 on May 6, 2007.
The lone goal scorer for the Fire that day? Chris Rolfe.
PREVIEW: Oduro, Pause, Segares Preview Saturday's game at New England
The MatchBook Zine is an incredible publication that Section 8 Chicago puts out on most home games. Given the masses that are descending on Columbus, a special edition has been written for today's match.
Make sure to find one at the tailgate and do the crossword on the back before heading inside!