The Chicago Fire's Sister Cities International Cup opens Wednesday night, with the MLS side hosting Paris Saint-Germain at 7 p.m. at Toyota Park. Legia Warsaw and Red Star Belgrade play each other afterward, and Wednesday's winners will meet in a championship match on Saturday.
"We're very fortunate to play these games, and hopefully it brings out the best in us," Fire midfielder Patrick Nyarko said. "We are going into those games with the mind-set of winning them, and hopefully we win this tournament so it gives us a great deal of confidence."
Confidence and momentum are two things the Fire would like to have back on their side when they resume league play. With eight games in the book and a 2-4-2 record to show for their efforts, Chicago needs to get back on track following back-to-back disheartening matches against Toronto FC (a 4-1 road loss) and the Kansas City Wizards (a 2-2 draw, despite having a 2-0 lead).
The timing of the Sister Cities bodes well. The players will maintain their approach as though this is a typical league game. But it also opens the door to try a few other players, and it's an opportunity for some to respond with a stronger effort..
After this past weekend's draw against Kansas City, some Fire viewers probably were taken aback by Chicago's attack-from-the-back execution -- a much different approach from head coach Carlos de los Cobos' usual game plan and more similar to his predecessor Denis Hamlett's setup. According to Nyarko, it was by design to compensate for the smaller pitch.
"It was absolutely, totally due to the size of the pitch," Nyarko said. "Going into the game we knew that Kansas City was at home and they've been playing on that field forever. They know how to play on it. We wanted to hang in there. If we do not try to play out of the back, we get punished. Once we got that early goal, we used that as our advantage and tried to sit back."
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