Fire Clash With Crew In Eastern Conference Rivalry Match At Toyota Park

A look at the week ahead for the Men In Red

Patrick Nyarko

Photo Credit: 
Brian Kersey Chicago Fire

FIRE HOST REGIONAL RIVALS COLUMBUS CREW AS RACE FOR MLS CUP PLAYOFFS BEGINS

The Chicago Fire (15-8-5; 50 points) welcome the Columbus Crew (12-10-6; 42 points) to Toyota Park for an Eastern Conference showdown on Saturday, Sept. 22 at 7:30 p.m. CT (NBC 5.2/97.5 ESPN Deportes).

With a 3-1 victory over the Montreal Impact Saturday, Sept. 15 the Fire move into second place in the Eastern Conference with 50 points. The Men in Red have been victorious in six of their last seven matches and have gained 32 points since June 17, going 10-3-2 in a bid for a MLS Playoff spot.

Saturday’s match is the third and final game between the two squads this season. In the first leg of the series, the Men in Red traveled to Columbus May 23 and gave a hard fought performance in front of 600 traveling supporters, but Austin Berry’s 72nd minute goal was not enough to overcome goals from Eddie Gaven and Emilio Renteria giving the Columbus Crew a 2-1 victory at Crew Stadium. The Fire used a second minute strike by Marco Pappa and a 26th minute Dominic Oduro goal to hold on after going down a man in the 29th minute due to a Gonzalo Segares red card for a hard-fought 2-1 victory on June 23 at Toyota Park.

The Columbus Crew, currently occupying the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference, enter the match after dropping a 3-1 decision to the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, Sept. 15 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ. The Crew will host Chivas USA on Wednesday, Sept. 19 at Crew Stadium before traveling to Chicago.

CHICAGO FIRE TRAINING SCHEDULE: Sept. 17 – Sept. 24

Monday, Sept. 17: Off
Tuesday, Sept. 18: First Team Training 8:30 a.m.*^ - Toyota Park Practice Field
RESERVE GAME – Chicago Fire vs. FC Dallas – Toyota Park Practice Field – 10:00 a.m. CT
Wednesday, Sept. 19: 9:30 a.m.*^ - Toyota Park Stadium Field    
Thursday, Sept. 20: Training 9:30 a.m. CT*^ - Toyota Park Practice Field            
Friday, Sept. 21: Training 9:30 a.m. CT*^ - Toyota Park Practice Field               
Saturday, Sept. 22: Chicago Fire vs. Columbus Crew - Toyota Park - 7:30 p.m. CT (NBC5.2/97.5 ESPN Deportes)
Sunday, Sept. 23: Off
Monday, Sept. 24: Off

*Training is open to the media. Fire players and coaches will be made available immediately following training.
^Training times are subject to change. Please contact Brendan Hannan at 720.937.8962 for media requests.

CHICAGO FIRE vs. Columbus Crew

  • The Fire hold a 21-12-13 record against the Columbus Crew, including a 12-5-7 record in matches played at home. The Fire have not lost to the Crew at Toyota Park since dropping a 4-1 decision on Oct. 7, 2006.
     
  • The Fire are 8-0-1 when hosting Eastern Conference opponents at Toyota Park this season and 12-4-3 overall against the East in 2012. In a streak that has now reached 17 matches, the Men in Red have not lost to an Eastern Conference foe at Toyota Park since October 12, 2010, going 12-0-6 in that time.
     
  • Only two teams in MLS have a better record than the Fire. San Jose is 17-6-5, 56 points and Sporting Kansas City is 15-7-6, 51 points.
     
  • The Fire’s 3-1 win over the Montreal Impact marks the seventh time this season the Fire have come back from a deficit to earn three points.
     
  • The Fire defense has now held its opposition to one goal or less in seven of its last eight matches.
     
  • Fernandez’s 80th minute strike on Saturday was his second in as many matches after scoring in the 13th minute in Wednesday’s 2-1 victory at Toronto FC.
     
  • This is the first time the Men in Red have earned 50 or more points since the 2003 season when the team went 15-7-8 for 53 points.
     
  • Logging 90 minutes, Fire defender Gonzalo Segares became just the seventh player in club history to appear in 200 competitive matches. The others: C.J. Brown (372), Logan Pause (297), Zach Thornton (276), Chris Armas (272), Jesse Marsch (259) and Justin Mapp (208).
     
  • The Fire will be without the services of defender Dan Gargan who will miss Saturday’s match against due to yellow card accumulation.

EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF RACE

With only seven points separating the top five teams in the Eastern Conference, each of the remaining matches will be crucial for the Fire’s bid to make the 2012 MLS post-season.

Saturday’s victory pushed the Men in Red to 15-8-5 (50 points) on the season, just one point behind Eastern Conference-leading Sporting Kansas City. The Fire are one point ahead of the third place New York Red Bulls.

Three of the remaining six matches will be played at Toyota Park, where the Fire have a domination 10-2-2 record against visiting teams this season. The Fire have gone unbeaten against Eastern Conference opponents at Toyota Park since they fell 2-0 on Oct. 12, 2010 to Sporting Kansas City, going 12-0-6 in that time.

FRANK KLOPAS’ WINNING WAYS

Saturday’s victory marked head coach Frank Klopas’ 51st match since he took over the squad on May 30, 2011. Klopas has since tallied a 23-13-15 record for a .598 winning percentage.

Klopas sits third all-time for points earned by coaches through the first 50 games of their careers in the post-shootout era.. With 81 points, Klopas is just six points behind Ray Hudson (Miami Fusion 2000-01) and Frank Yallop (San Jose Earthquakes 2001-02).

CHICAGO FIRE ROAR BACK TO DEFEAT MONTREAL IMPACT 3-1

For the seventh time this season, the Chicago Fire responded from a deficit, using goals from Alex and Designated Players Alvaro Fernandez and Sherjill MacDonald to rally and defeat the Montreal Impact  Saturday night at Toyota Park. With the victory, the Fire move to within one point of Eastern Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City (51 pts.) with six matches remaining in the MLS regular season. The Fire are 10-3-2 with 32 points since June 17, 2012.

Making their first-ever trip to Toyota Park, the visiting Impact came close first. Attacking the Fire in transition, midfielder Felipe laid off for Davy Arnaud on the right before his low cross picked out Marco Di Vaio but the Italian striker only got a chopping shot off, forcing Fire ‘keep Sean Johnson into an easy save in the ninth minute.

Montreal would break through in the 20th minute when Rivas’ sent a long ball up the right to Hassoun Camara. The French defender sent a flicked-on header towards the box and into the path of Di Vaio, who worked through the Fire back line before firing low to Johnson’s right go give the Impact a 1-0 lead.

The Fire came close to equalizing in the 31st minute when Alex won a ball in the attacking end and played it back for Logan Pause. The Fire captain slotted for Alvaro Fernandez who belted a low shot just wide left of Troy Perkins goal.

Three minutes later, the Fire would find the equalizer. A long bit of possession resulted in Anibaba collecting the ball on the right before the second year defender crossed for Sherjill MacDonald who’s glancing header beat Perkins inside the back post. It was the Dutch striker’s second goal since joining the Men in Red in late July.

Both teams struggled for chances at the beginning of the second half, failing to connect with a shot on goal until the Fire found the go-ahead in the 61st minute. Playing with high pressure, Alex intercepted Alessandro Nesta’s pass out of the back before laying off for Fernandez. The Uruguayan international chipped forward for Alex, who chested down before entering the box and firing a beautiful left-footed effort to the top right corner to give the Fire a 2-1 lead.

The visitors looked to respond in the 73rd minute when Bernier put on a dribbling exhibition at the top of the box. Finally, the Canadian international directed an effort towards goal that Di Vaio redirected but Johnson kept the chance out before it was called back due to offside.

The Fire would put the game on ice seven minutes later. Substitute defender Dan Gargan pushed far up the right to find Chris Rolfe before the veteran forward centered a pass to an open Fernandez, leaving the Uruguayan international with a one-time effort that beat Perkins inside the near post in the 80th minute.

Before the end, the Impact tried to pull things back within one goal as Bernier penetrated through the middle before finding Di Vaio. The former Italian international found space before unleashing a low drive just wide of goal in the 87th minute, leaving the Fire with all three of the points on the night.

CHICAGO FIRE SIGN GUILLERMO FRANCO

The Chicago Fire Soccer Club announced Friday that the club has signed Guillermo Franco on a free transfer. The two-time World Cup veteran and Mexican international will be added to the Fire’s roster pending the receipt of his International Transfer Certificate (ITC) and P1 Visa. Per club and MLS policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed. Franco will likely see his first action for the Men in Red when the Fire take on FC Dallas in MLS Reserve League action at Toyota Park on Tuesday, Sept. 18 at 10:00 a.m. CT.

Franco joins the Fire from Liga MX side Pachuca where he made 12 appearances in 2012. The Corrientes, Argentina product began his career with Argentine Primera División side San Lorenzo in 1995. Franco spent the next seven seasons with San Lorenzo, scoring 23 goals in 96 matches.

In 2002 Franco joined Mexican side Monterrey, where he made 119 appearances and scored 63 goals. While with los Rayados, Franco led the team to the 2003 Clausura title and led the league in scoring during the 2004 Apertura season with 15 goals. Franco then headed to Spain where he spent the 2006-09 season with Villarreal, where he made 81 appearances and scored 14 goals, including the goal in a 1-0 victory against Celta de Vigo that sent Villarreal into the UEFA Cup.

Franco signed with West Ham United for the 2009 season where he scored five goals in 23 appearances. He then joined Argentinean side Vélez Sársfield in 2011 where he made 18 appearances and scored five goals.

Franco became a naturalized Mexican citizen in 2004 and made his national team debut in 2005. Franco scored eight times in 25 appearances for El Tri, and represented Mexico in both the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cups. Franco becomes the fourth player on the Fire roster with FIFA World Cup experience. 

CHICAGO FIRE LOAN ORR BAROUCH TO BNEI YEHUDA TEL AVIV F.C.

The Chicago Fire Soccer Club announced Thursday that the club has loaned forward Orr Barouch to Israeli side Bnei Yehuda Tel Aviv F.C. The 20-year-old Israeli-born striker will join the Tel Aviv side immediately. Per club and MLS policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Barouch joined the Men in Red on loan from Mexican Primera side Tigres UANL on March 10, 2011. Barouch appeared in 28 league matches, tallying two goals and two assists during the 2011 MLS campaign. Barouch also led the team in scoring with three goals during the side’s run to the 2011 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final and added five goals during MLS Reserve League play.

The Fire purchased the rights to Barouch on Dec. 5, 2011. In the 2012 MLS Regular Season, he has appeared in nine games for the Men in Red, starting the Fire’s June 2 match against the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Barouch started and played 84 minutes in the Fire’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup third-round match on May 29.

Born in Haifa, Israel, Barouch made his international debut for the Israeli U-21 Men’s National Team in 2011 and has represented Israel at the U-21 level five times, scoring twice.

CHICAGO FIRE ACQUIRE MIDFIELDER WELLS THOMPSON

The Chicago Fire Soccer Club announced on Monday, Sept 10 that the club has acquired Wells Thompson from the Colorado Rapids in exchange for a conditional draft pick. Per team and MLS policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Thompson joined the Colorado Rapids in 2010 from the New England Revolution and tallied five goals and four assists in 75 MLS Regular Season matches. Thompson was a member of the Rapids squad that won the 2010 MLS Cup.

Drafted by the New England Revolution in the first round (fifth overall) of the 2007 MLS SuperDraft, Thompson made 71 regular season appearances in three seasons for the Revolution. In his rookie season, Thompson made 27 appearances and started 11 matches, then started all four post-season games for the Revs, including the 2007 MLS Cup final.

Thompson made his MLS debut against the Fire on April 7, 2007. He also notched his first professional goal against the Men in Red on May 6, 2007.

A four-year standout at Wake Forest University, Thompson finished his collegiate career with 16 goals and 10 assists, helping Wake Forest advance to the 2006 NCAA College Cup for the first time in school history.

Thompson made his first appearance for the Men in Red in a 2-1 victory against Toronto FC on Wednesday, Sept. 12 when he entered the match in the 63rd minute.

FIRE IN THE NEWS

Fire look to shore up playoff spot - Jack McCarthy - Chicago Tribune - September 11, 2012
http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/ct-spt-0912-fire-chicago--20120912,0,4716183.story

Fire's Dominic Oduro unfazed by competition for playing time - Seth Gruen - Chicago Sun-Times - September 14, 2012 http://www.suntimes.com/sports/soccer/fire/15152424-626/fires-dominic-oduro-unfazed-by-competition-for-playing-time.html

Fire adds experience in Mexican forward Franco - Orrin Schwarz - Daily Herald - September 14, 2012 http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20120914/sports/709149759/

Primera entrevista de Guillermo Franco como jugador del Chicago Fire - Jose Luis Sanchez Pando - Hoy - September 14, 2012 http://www.vivelohoy.com/deportes/8131917/primera-entrevista-de-guillermo-franco-como-jugador-del-chicago-fire

Paladini on recent strong play of Fire on CTL - Comcast SportsNet Chicago - September 13, 2012
http://www.csnchicago.com/pages/firevideo?PID=6cLLTB-xQO_9t84e4AiExKBBdEEQy_V23fy3aQB

Firing On All Cylinders: Frank Klopas speaks with ExtraTime Radio - MLSsoccer.com - September 13, 2012
http://www.mlssoccer.com/extratime

Wells Thompson steps out on faith into the Fire - Stephanie Gardner - Goal.com - September 12, 2012
http://www.goal.com/en-us/news/1110/major-league-soccer/2012/09/12/3370660/wells-thompson-steps-out-on-faith-into-the-fire

CHICAGO FIRE TEAM WRITER, JEFF CRANDALL FEATURES ON CHICAGO-FIRE.COM

Five Things You Should Know About Saturday’s Game vs. Montreal – September 15, 2012
http://www.chicago-fire.com/news/2012/09/five-things-you-should-know-about-saturdays-game-vs-montreal

Fire Veteran Gonzalo Segares Set to Make 200th Career Appearance – September 14, 2012
http://www.chicago-fire.com/blog/post/2012/09/14/fire-veteran-gonzalo-segares-set-make-200th-career-fire-appearance-saturday-nig

Blast from the Past: A Q&A with Fire Legend Chris Armas – September 11, 2012
http://www.chicago-fire.com/news/2012/09/blast-past-qa-fire-legend-chris-armas

All-In Podcast with Ante Razov – September 10, 2012
http://www.chicago-fire.com/news/2012/09/blast-past-qa-fire-legend-chris-armas