Fire Begin MLS Cup Playoffs Against Houston Dynamo At Toyota Park
Postseason soccer returns to Toyota Park when the fourth seed Chicago Fire (17-11-6, 57 points) host the fifth seed Houston Dynamo (14-8-11; 53 points) on Wednesday, Oct. 31 at 8:00 p.m. CT live on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and 97.5 ESPN Deportes.
The Men in Red won the regular season series against the Dynamo, going 1-0-2 in three matches. Will Bruin and Logan Pause traded goals midway through the first half before severe weather ended the match in the 66th minute as the two teams drew 1-1 at Toyota Park April 15. In the second leg of the season series, the Fire and Dynamo battled to a 0-0 draw at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas on July 3, while in the series finale, the Fire got first half goals from Patrick Nyarko and Daniel Paladini before a late strike from Alex gave the side a 3-1 victory at Toyota Park Sept. 2.
The Houston Dynamo enter the match after falling 2-0 to the Colorado Rapids Saturday evening at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
CHICAGO FIRE TRAINING SCHEDULE: Oct. 28 – Nov. 4
Sunday, Oct. 28: Training 11:00 a.m. CT*^
Monday, Oct. 29: Training 9:30 a.m. CT*^
Tuesday, Oct. 30: Training 9:30 a.m. CT*^
Wednesday, Oct. 31: MLS CUP PLAYOFFS: Chicago Fire vs. Houston Dynamo – Toyota Park – 8:00 p.m. CT (ESPN2 /97.5 ESPN Deportes)
Thursday, Nov. 1: TBD
Friday, Nov. 2: TBD
Saturday, Nov. 3: TBD
Sunday, Nov. 4: TBD
*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. Houston Dynamo – MLS Cup Playoffs
- The Fire have never faced the Houston Dynamo in the postseason.
- The Fire hold a 4-6-5 regular season record against the Houston Dynamo, including a 2-3-3 record in matches played at home.
- The Men in Red are 11-3-3 at Toyota Park this season.
- In his first full season as Fire head coach, Frank Klopas led the Fire to a 17-11-6 Regular Season record and fourth place in the Eastern Conference. The 57 points the team earned is tied with the 2000 season for the highest point total in club history.
- Under Frank Klopas, the Fire have never lost when scoring the first goal. The Men in Red are 17-0-5 under Klopas when finding the net first.
- Wednesday’s MLS Cup Playoff fixture will mark the first time the Men in Red have played a match on Halloween.
- This is the first time the Men in Red have qualified for the playoffs since 2009.
- The Fire have reached the postseason in 12 out of their 15 seasons. The Men in Red have made three appearances in the MLS Cup Final, winning the title in 1998, their inaugural year.
- The Fire hold an all-time 21-15-6 record in 42 previous postseason matches.
- The Men in Red are 6-3-2 all-time in their first match of the MLS Cup playoffs.
- The Chicago Fire have participated in the playoffs 11 times in their history (2012 is the 12th), reaching the MLS Cup Final in 1998, 2000 and 2003. The Fire made history as the first and only MLS expansion side to win the Domestic Double in 1998 with victories in both the MLS Cup Final and the U.S. Open Cup Final.
- The club has eight players that have previously taken part in the MLS Cup playoffs. Chris Rolfe (14 games), Logan Pause (13), Gonzalo Segares (12), Patrick Nyarko (4) are the only four players to appear in the postseason for the Fire while Wells Thompson (New England, Colorado; 14 games), Dominic Oduro (FC Dallas, Houston; 5), Alvaro Fernandez (Seattle; 4) and Dan Gargan (Colorado) all bring playoff experience from other MLS clubs.
- Should the Fire emerge victorious at midweek, they will advance to take on the #1 seed, Sporting Kansas City, in a two-game aggregate series with the first match coming on Sunday, Nov. 4 at 2:30 p.m. CT (NBC) at Toyota Park.
CHICAGO FIRE HOLD BEST PLAYOFF QUALIFICATION PERCENTAGE IN CHICAGO
The Chicago Fire have qualified for the playoffs in 12 out of their 15 seasons. The Men in Red have made three appearances in the MLS Cup Final, winning the title in 1998, their inaugural year. No other sports team in Chicago has been able to replicate the success that the Fire have found since 1998. Below are the postseason qualification percentages for professional sports teams in Chicago:
First 15 Seasons Last 15 Seasons
Fire 12/15 = 80% (1998-2012) 12/15 = 80% (1998-2012)
Bulls 10/15 = 66% (1966-1980) 8/15 = 53% (1998-2012)
Hawks 10/15 = 66% (1926-1941) 5/15 = 33% (1997-2012)
Bears 8/15 = 53% (1932-1946) 4/15 = 26% (1997-2011)
Cubs 4/15 = 26% (1902-1916) 5/15 = 33% (1998-2012)
Sox 2/15 = 13% (1904-1918) 3/15 = 20%(1998-2012)
CHICAGO FIRE ANNOUNCE 2012 TEAM AWARD WINNERS
The Chicago Fire Soccer Club announced its annual team awards, as selected by media, Saturday prior to kickoff of the Chicago Fire – D.C. United match at Toyota Park naming forward Chris Rolfe Most Valuable Player and defender Arne Friedrich Defender of the Year. Since returning to the Fire from Danish Superliga side Aalborg BK in April, Rolfe’s eight goals also earned him the club’s Golden Boot award.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER/GOLDEN BOOT: Chris Rolfe was named the 2012 Chicago Fire Most Valuable Player which is voted on by media. Rolfe was reacquired by the Fire on April 16, 2012 after three seasons with Danish Superliga side Aalborg BK. In 22 games with the Men in Red, Rolfe has also earned the club’s Golden Boot for his eight goals and three assists. The Kettering, Ohio native has two multi-goal games this season with braces in a 3-1 victory against the Philadelphia Union Aug. 12 and a 2-1 victory against the Columbus Crew Sept. 22. This marks the first time Rolfe has been named Team MVP and third time he’s taken the club’s Golden Boot, having previously won the award in 2005 and 2009.
DEFENDER OF THE YEAR: Arne Friedrich was named Fire Defender of the Year, as selected by media members. Having joined the club just prior to the 2012 season, the two-time German World Cup veteran has commanded a solid Fire defense. The center back featured in 23 games for the Men in Red, keeping opponents to 41 goals in 34 games. Friedrich has one goal to his credit this year, opening his MLS goal scoring account in a 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union Aug. 12.
CHICAGO FIRE DRAW D.C. UNITED 1-1
The Chicago Fire (17-11-6; 57 points) received an early marker from Patrick Nyarko but D.C. United (17-10-7; 58 points) equalized just after the break and held off a late barrage to take a 1-1 draw Saturday afternoon at Toyota Park. With the result, the Fire finish the regular season fourth in the Eastern Conference.
The Fire would get the goal they needed 15 minutes later. Defender Gonzalo Segares began the play with a forward ball that Sherjill MacDonald dummied for Patrick Nyarko. The Ghanaian attacker flicked the ball to MacDonald in stride before receiving it back from the Dutchman and firing a scorching blast that beat the outstretched Hamid to the right post to give the Fire a 1-0 lead.
The hosts nearly went ahead 2-0 four minutes later when Nyarko picked off Chris Pontius’ pass at midfield and strolled forward before playing a quick ball for Chris Rolfe. The 2012 Chicago Fire MVP saw he had numbers on United’s defense and slid the ball left for MacDonald who saw his right-footed effort saved well off the line by Hamid.
The Fire’s advantage wouldn’t last long after the half however when Pontius played a ball on the left for Boskovic who held up and crossed to the near post finding Pajoy who his header over Johnson’s reach and inside the back post in the 50th minute.
United came close to taking the lead in the 59th minute when Najar circled through midfield before playing a quick combination with DeLeon on the right. The D.C. rookie chipped the Honduran international in alone up the right but Najar chopped his effort wide of Johnson’s goal.
With United needing only a draw to secure second place, the Fire began to push forward after the hour mark. Again it was Nyarko collecting the ball on the right before seeing his deflected shot fall for Segares at the top of the area. The Costa Rican international flicked forward for MacDonald whose one-time effort was thwarted once again by the onrushing Hamid in the 63rd minute.
Three minutes later, Segares played a forward ball for MacDonald again. This time the Dutch international maneuvered past D.C.’s Brandon McDonald before centering for Rolfe. The veteran Fire striker then laid a soft pass back for Alvaro Fernandez but the Uruguayan international put his first-timer wide right in the 66th minute.
D.C. nearly took the lead again in the 70th minute when Pontius was chipped into the box on the left before hitting a quick shot that Johnson turned away with a reaction save. On the rebound Segares’ attempted clear hit Pajoy and the ball deflected towards the back post but Johnson was quick to make the save.
The pair would link up again in the 76th minute when MacDonald beat his mark down the left and whipped in a heavy, low cross for Oduro at the six but the Fire striker pushed his first-time effort over goal.
Into the 85th minute, Hamid would come up huge again when Pavel Pardo’s swinging 35-yard free kick picked out the diving head of Anibaba but the second year Fire defender’s effort was held once again by the United backstop.
The Fire would find three more opportunities in stoppage time.
First in the 92nd minute as Segares’ forward ball was healed ahead by MacDonald and eventually chased down at the end line by substitute Guillermo Franco. The veteran forward held up and pushed it back for Segares who quickly crossed for MacDonald but saw his first-time shot go over the bar.
Seconds later, MacDonald would be played back in towards the end line before cutting back and hitting a sharp-angled shot towards the near post that Hamid dove to save. Segares dug out the rebound and put it back across where Oduro’s heeled effort came off the post before falling for Anibaba who saw his first-time shot saved off the line by DeLeon.
Deep into stoppage time, substitute midfielder Alex received a forward ball into space from Pardo and unleashed a blistering effort that forced Hamid to push the ball over the bar for a corner kick.
On the ensuing take, Pardo found Franco at the near post but his header glanced high over the net, ending the match at 1-1.
FIRE IN THE NEWS
Draw sends Fire into play-in game – Jack McCarthy – Chicago Tribune - October 27, 2012
Fire ties D.C. United, will host Dynamo in play-in game – Seth Gruen – Chicago Sun-Times – October 27, 2012
Fire just happy to be hosting play-in game – Orrin Schwarz – Daily Herald – October 27, 2012
Fire draw, will host Houston in elimination round Wednesday – The Associated Press – October 27, 2012
Knockout Round bound: Fire frantic push comes up short – Anthony Zilis – MLSsoccer.com – October 27, 2012
Fire 1 DC United 1 – recap and ratings – Guillermo Rivera – Chicago Fire Confidential – October 27, 2012
Five Things You Should Know About Saturday’s Game vs. D.C. United – October 27, 2012
A Look Back at How Far the Fire Have Come in 2012 – October 27, 2012
All-In with Pavel Pardo – October 25, 2012
MacDonald Anxious for DC after Disappointing Defeat at Revs – October 24, 2012
After Injury Absence, Pardo Eyes Return vs. D.C. – October 23, 2012