A quick update on the injury front for Sunday's game vs. New York...
MLSsoccer.com's Franco Panizio reports that forward Fabian Espindola, who has been listed as questionable all week with a hamstring strain, will not be traveling to Chicago for Sunday's game.
Espindola also missed Red Bull's 2-1 win over Philadelphia last week.
Panizio also reports that frontline partner Thierry Henry will be part of the 18, though he seems likely to come off the bench for the second-straight week.
Also listed as questionable in recovery from an MCL strain, the Frenchman played 31 minutes and scored the game-winner in his team's victory over the Union.
After another tough loss two weeks ago against Chivas USA, the Fire look to pick up their first win of the season against the Red Bulls on Sunday afternoon (4pm CT on ESPN2/La Ley 107.9FM). New York relied on a bit of Henry magic to pick up three points against Philly last week. Here are some things to look for from a tactical perspective:
Targeting Holgersson – get him in 1v1 situations
Anyone who has watched MLS over the past few seasons knows that Jamison Olave is one of the league’s great defenders. One of Olave’s great strengths is his recovery speed, something his partner Markus Holgersson doesn’t possess. While Holgersson is very adept in the air, if the Fire can get him separated from Olave, it may open the Red Bulls up. The more times the Fire can get players like Chris Rolfe in 1v1 situations with the Swede, the better.
TICKETS: Fire vs. Red Bulls Sunday at 4pm CT
Pause, Lindpere Preview Red Bull
Holgersson also has a tendency to switch off at times, as was seen in the goals Red Bull gave up against Philly last week and against Montreal in a 1-0 loss earlier in the season. As is the case with Arne Friedrich for the Fire, Jamison Olave makes everyone around him better, but if the Fire manage to separate him from Holgersson, they must take advantage.
Stopping Juninho – stifling the deep lying playmaker
The 38-year-old Brazilian Juninho has excelled in the deep lying playmaker role for the Red Bulls so far this season. Juninho plays ahead of the back four and receives the ball from the defenders before starting the attacks from a very deep position.
His exceptional passing range means he can easily look to play the ball up to Dax McCarty through the middle, play it out to the wing, or look for a long ball up to Tim Cahill who is excellent in the air.
The Fire must try and make it difficult for Juninho to start the attacks, and the prime candidate for this role is the second striker, namely Rolfe or Alex (if he’s available). In the second leg of the recent Champions League match between Manchester United and Real Madrid, United forward Danny Welbeck did a great job of stifling Madrid’s deep lying playmaker Xabi Alonso and I look for Rolfe or Alex to try and emulate that on Sunday.
When the Fire lose the ball in the attacking third, someone must immediately look to pick up Juninho and try and make it difficult for the Red Bulls to play through him.
Athletico Coaching Corner with Matko
Helping out on the right – don’t isolate the right back
Last game, Wells Thompson did a solid job filling in a right back, a position with little player consistency for the Fire due to injuries this season. Chivas USA did look dangerous however when the managed to get Wells in 1v1 situations, especially in the first half.
READ: Stopping Thierry Henry
With Logan Pause nearing fitness it may be the case that Pause slots in on the right with Wells moving ahead of him but in either case, the right midfielder must track back and help. The Red Bulls love to have Henry drift wide and the Fire must try and prevent him from getting in 1v1 situations at all costs.
Though many would argue the Red Bulls’ weakest players are the wingers, outside defenders like Heath Pearce are not afraid to get forward and support in the attack. Red Bull’s movement off the ball from players like McCarty and Henry make them a hard team to defend against.
Though the Fire are the home team, head coach Frank Klopas said that the number one goal for Sunday’s match is keeping a clean sheet. With that in mind, a solid defensive effort from front to back is essential.
Prediction: 1-0 Fire with a goal from Sherjill MacDonald who looked to be almost back to his old self last weekend.
Stephen Piggott is a contributor to Chicago-Fire.com. Follow him on Twitter @Irish_Steve.
Here at the Fire we love Twitter in more ways than one. It's a great source of communication, but also the only place to find #JumperThoughts.
Fire defender Hunter Jumper is a man of infinite wisdom, and his tweets reflect that. So without further ado, I give you #JumperThoughts Vol. 1... Enjoy!
Dangerously optimistic for me to take the US tonight. Playing in Azteca is like playing baseball in Captain Hook's Neverland... Hostile
— Hunter Jumper (@HunterJumper_) March 26, 2013
I always wear shoes without socks and socks without shoes
— Hunter Jumper (@HunterJumper_) March 18, 2013
Super confused on how to throw away our broken garbage bin
— Hunter Jumper (@HunterJumper_) December 7, 2012
Kind of intrigued by the commercial asking me to donate my used car to the blind
— Hunter Jumper (@HunterJumper_) November 11, 2012
That awkward moment when you can't find your neighbor's dog who you're supposed to be watching
— Hunter Jumper (@HunterJumper_) November 21, 2012
Watching Zero Dark Thirty wearing only red, white, and blue
— Hunter Jumper (@HunterJumper_) January 10, 2013
Balotelli is smoother than Carlos Santana
— Hunter Jumper (@HunterJumper_) October 3, 2012
Dear parking ticket officer, stop ruining everybody's day
— Hunter Jumper (@HunterJumper_) August 21, 2012
This blue verified chip makes feel like the official spokesperson for horse events
— Hunter Jumper (@HunterJumper_) March 14, 2013
#PerksOfDatingMe I have terrible hearing, so it'll always seem like I'm listening
— Hunter Jumper (@HunterJumper_) February 19, 2013
#YouMightBeARepublican if you wear boat shoes
— Hunter Jumper (@HunterJumper_) February 17, 2013
2 chainz is a liar. He's wearing at least three
— Hunter Jumper (@HunterJumper_) February 17, 2013
I despise Adidas for putting their logo on the back of shorts. Always second guessing myself dressing
— Hunter Jumper (@HunterJumper_) February 7, 2013
I’m so cheesy yo; my swag got high cholesterol
— Hunter Jumper (@HunterJumper_) January 31, 2012
Game versus Charleston Battery has been cancelled bc of Twister like weather
— Hunter Jumper (@HunterJumper_) March 3, 2012
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!
A stroll through my Google Alerts this morning leads me to wish a big congrats to former Fire captain Chris Armas on his induction with the inaugural class into the Long Island Soccer Hall of Fame this past Saturday.
The second captain in club history, the Brentwood, N.Y. product racked up 273 competitve appearances (4th all-time) along with 12 goals and 50 assists (2nd all-time) in his 10 seasons in Chicago. He joins C.J. Brown and Zach Thornton as the only three players in club history to be part of all six domestic championships and is one of seven men enshrined in the Ring of Fire.
PERUSE: TrueCar Player Registry
I did some further digging and found out that although he was unable to be in attendance at Saturday's ceremony, Fire owner and Long Island native Andrew Hautpman helped support the event by purchasing a table at the dinner and had this letter read to honor Armas' career achievements and contributions to the Chicago Fire Soccer Club:
Greetings Fellow Long Islanders –
I wanted to extend heartfelt congratulations to Shep Messing, Paul LeSueur, Kim Wyant and Chris Armas for your induction into the Long Island Soccer Player Hall of Fame. Your contributions to the sport of soccer and to Long Island have helped shape the game and our community in positive and powerful ways.
I apologize for not being able to attend tonight’s event (ironically, it's the home opener for my beloved Chicago Fire!). Speaking of which, I would especially like to acknowledge and thank the 'one and only' Chris Armas for his efforts with the Chicago Fire Soccer Club. Chris is the type of individual who has always done things the right way. His industriousness, talent, attention to detail and spirit has always separated him from his competitors on-and-off-the-field.
Having also grown up playing soccer on Long Island (in Smithtown where my mother designed all of the patches for the Smithtown Traveling Soccer Club), I immediately bonded and felt a closeness with Chris, not to mention having also admired his approach to the game. Chris is as hard working a player you will ever encounter and is perhaps the best holding midfielder of his generation. Despite winning five domestic trophies, being a five-time Best XI midfielder and earning 66 appearances with the U.S. Men’s National Team, Chris remains humble and true to his Long Island roots.
Before owning the Fire, I always looked at Chris as someone who exemplified all of the characteristics I valued in a soccer player. Once I was leading the club, I realized that Chris exemplifies all of the characteristics I value in a person. Chris is a trusting and caring individual who treats everyone with the utmost respect and tries to do the right thing...always. Above all, he is a committed family man and a wonderful human being.
Chris, thanks for your spectacular contributions to the game of soccer, to Long Island and to the Chicago Fire Soccer Club. I’m am truly honored to have gotten to know you and consider you a trusted colleague and a friend.
Again, congratulations to all of those being honored tonight -- I look forward to seeing the Hall of Fame grow from strength to strength.
Hopefully Saturday's recognition for Chris isn't the only Hall of Fame he enters in 2013. Armas, who made 66 appearances and scored two goals for the U.S. Men's National team, was once again on the ballot for the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame this year.
The announcement on the 2013 class is set to come later this month...