Five things you should know about Sunday's opener vs. LA
1) It’d be nice to see the Fire open up the season with a win at two-time defending MLS Cup champions LA. It’s not just because it would mean three points to start the season but it would also break a four-match winless run against the Galaxy that dates back to the Fire’s 3-2 victory on August 1, 2010.
In the last seven meetings between the sides, LA has gone 5-1-1 against the Fire taking their overall record against the Men in Red to 15-18-4.
Time to start evening that one back out…
WATCH: LA Game Preview
2) Another monkey to get off the back is the fact that the Fire haven’t won a season opener since the team’s 3-1 victory at FC Dallas in 2009.
In recent years the team has been saddled by some difficult opening matchups (see opening Red Bull Arena in 2010 and Montreal's Olympic Stadium in 2012) and that trend continues today vs. the two-time defending MLS Cup champion Galaxy.
3) It’s been 863 days since Steven Kinney last appeared in a competitive match. Sunday the fourth-year Fire defender returns to The Home Depot Center for the first time since suffering an Achilles tear on October 23, 2010 in a 4-1 win over Chivas USA.
Kinney has progressed well through the team’s preseason campaign and seems ready to play a part again on the Fire back line. Might we see him in the 18 this afternoon?
4) In my Gameday Q&A with Frank Klopas the manager said new LA Galaxy captain Robbie Keane was among the best players all-time in Major League Soccer.
How good is Keane? Over the course of his MLS career he has tallied a goal or an assist in every 99 minutes of play. In case you’ve forgotten, the Irish international also scored six goals in the Galaxy’s final four playoff games last season.
The Fire backline will have to be especially aware of not just Keane but the space his runs can provide strike partner Mike Magee on Sunday.
TACTICAL: How to be victorious at LA
5) It hasn’t happened very often in his Fire tenure but with recent changes in midfield, there is a chance that club captain Logan Pause could begin Sunday’s game on the bench. When Pause missed two games with pneumothorax last season, Pavel Pardo wore the armband in his place.
Pardo is of course retired, which raises the question, who would take the armband should Pause not be on the field? When Pause was absent during first-team matches in preseason, it was central midfielder Jeff Larentowicz that took on the captaincy.