The Fire will be looking to bounce back from last week’s 1-0 defeat to the New York Red Bulls and pick up their first points of the season when they travel west to take on the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday.
Historically, the Fire have had a nightmare playing in Colorado. Prior to last year’s 2-1 victory at the Rapids, Chicago hadn’t won in Colorado since 1999—a span of 10 matches.
“I think that it’s always a challenge,” Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos said of playing at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. “But we need to prepare good and go to Colorado [and] think that we can change the history, [so] we can return to home with a good result.”
If the Fire are to return home with a good result, they will need to stop several key Colorado players. Forwards Conor Casey and Omar Cummings are always dangerous, and the Fire’s back line will have to play well if they are to effectively limit the skillful tandem. In particular, the Chicago defense will want to keep a watchful eye on Cummings, who scored two goals in the teams’ last meeting.
The Fire will also want to keep a close eye on Colorado central midfielders Jeff Larentowicz and Pablo Mastroeni. Larentowicz, brought in this offseason from New England, and Mastroeni figure to put a physical stamp on the proceedings and whoever gets the nod in the Fire’s central midfield will have a tough test.
It would be nice to see de los Cobos give Baggio Husidic and Logan Pause the start in the center for Saturday’s match. Pause and Peter Lowry started last week, but Husidic—who played well after coming on as a second half substitute in Matchday 1—provides a more physical presence than Lowry and did well at Colorado last year. Regardless of who starts in the central midfield this week, they will need to play well against the solid pairing of Larentowicz and Mastroeni if the Fire are to leave the Rocky Mountains with a result.