By The Numbers

Anibaba, hat-tricks and Ritchie Kotschau

Fire Rookie Numbers – 706, 8, 81, 21

Fire rookie right back Jalil Anibaba has already set a club record this season just eight games into his professional career.  With his start and appearance in Saturday’s 0-0 draw vs. Vancouver, the Fire’s 2011 first round draft pick has set the club record for number of minutes played by a rookie to start an MLS season with 706, passing Ritchie Kotschau in the category at the 81st minute mark in the weekend match against the Whitecaps.

Anibaba also tied Kotschau in both consecutive games played and started by a Fire rookie at eight. Kotschau, a rookie in the club’s inaugural 1998 season, started the team’s first eight matches in 1998 before coming on as a 59th minute sub for Frank Klopas in the ninth regular season game, a 3-1 win vs. the LA Galaxy at Soldier Field on May 20.

All indications are that Anibaba will be starting again at right back Saturday at Toronto and if he does, the University of North Carolina product will make the record his own, though he’ll still have a ways to go to catch Kotschau in the consecutive games played category among Fire rookies, as the two-year Fire player appeared in 21 straight matches (3/21/98-7/25/98) to start his debut MLS campaign…

Fire Hat Tricks

This past Friday, May 6 was the 11th anniversary of the club’s first-ever hat trick, scored by it’s all-time leading scorer Ante Razov. The striker scored all three goals in the 49th, 56th and 72nd minutes in the Fire’s 3-0 win at Miami.

That piece of history made me wonder about the other four Fire hat tricks and what time of the season they occurred…

Razov, the only player to hit for two hat tricks, saw both occur during the month of May, with his other coming on May 19, 2002 in a 3-1 win at New England.

The next Fire player to score a hat trick was Damani Ralph, who tallied his on June 5, 2004 in a 3-0 win vs. DC United at Soldier Field. Almost a year to the day of Ralph’s effort, Nate Jaqua became the fourth Fire player to tally thre in a game, scoring three in the Fire’s 5-2 win over Chivas USA on June 4, 2005.

 So, four of the five hat tricks in club history occurred within a 31-day window spread out over the course of five years…

What’s the outlier here? Chris Rolfe’s hat trick, which he tallied in the first half of a 5-2 win over the New York Red Bulls on October 23, 2008.

To date, Rolfe and Razov (May 6) are the only two Fire players to tally their hat tricks inside one half of play.

10th Game vs. Toronto FC

Saturday’s Fire trip north of the border will mark the 10th all-time regular season meeting between Chicago and Toronto FC. The previous nine encounters have made all-time series record an even 3-3-3, with Toronto holding a 14-13 edge in goals. Given that Toronto is now no longer one of the “newish” teams in Major League Soccer, I wondered how the Fire have fared in their 10th all-time regular season meeting with an opponent.

THE ANSWER: 7-3-2

Recap of the Fire’s 10th matches with MLS opponents:

Date                 Opponent                     Score               Goal Scorers

5/24/00                vs. Dallas                    4-3 W               OG, Razov (2), Kovalenko

6/4/00                   vs. Kansas City          3-2 W               Stoichkov, Marsch, Wolff

6/24/00                vs. San Jose               1-1 D                 Kovalenko

7/4/00                   @ Colorado               1-2 L                   Lewis

8/19/00                vs. Los Angeles          2-1 W                 Stoichkov, Whitfield

6/9/01                   vs. Columbus             1-0 W                  J. Beasley

5/4/02                   @ DC United              3-0 W                   Daniv, Nowak, Razov

5/19/02                vs. New England        3-1 W                    Razov (3)

6/22/02                vs. New York               0-1 L                       -

9/12/09                vs. Real Salt Lake       1-1 D                     Rolfe

10/22/09              vs. Chivas USA            1-0 W                    own goal

8/21/10                @ Houston                   3-4 L                      Carr, own goal, Conde

Other Tidbits…

For just the fourth time in the club’s 14-year history, the Fire are riding a streak of three consecutive regular season draws. When entering a match under this scenario, the Fire are an even 1-1-1, below is the breakdown of those games

Date                      Opponent                           Score                     Goal Scorers

10/6/07                vs. New England                2-1 W                    Rolfe, Barrett    

5/2/09                   vs. Seattle                           1-1 D                      Pappa

10/2/09                @ Los Angles                     0-1 L                       -

What is the longest streak of draws in Fire history? Five matches from April 11-May 9, 2009.

Jeff Crandall is the Team Writer for the Chicago Fire. Follow him on Twitter @JefeCrandall.