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.
Two games for the price of one? Why not?
Following Sunday's first team match between the Fire and Red Bulls, the club is inviting supporters to stick around to catch the an MLS Reserve League match between the two sides.
Some things to know if you stay at Toyota Park following the first game:
- The reserve game begins 30 minutes after the end of first team game.
- Stadium re-entry will not be allowed.
- Fans that stay will be asked to move to the east side of the Toyota Park stands.
- The Stadium Club, Second Star Club and suites will close at normal times following the first game.
- As usual, alcohol sales will end at the 75th minute of the first game. There will be no sale of alcohol during the reserve match.
- Concessions behind Section 126 will remain open for the reserve game.
Don't have your tickets for Sunday? Get them here.
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
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.