BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – A few lineup notes ahead of the Fire’s Saturday match at Real Salt Lake:
1) Pappa is ready to go
After missing the Fire’s last four matches due to a combination of injuries and international duty, Guatemalan winger Marco Pappa looks set to start in Salt Lake.
“He is a very important player for us, and he looked very good in practice [this week],” Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos said.
The Fire went 0-2-2 in Pappa’s absence, scoring just two goals in the process.
2) Central midfield questions
With John Thorrington (right hamstring tightness) doubtful for this Saturday’s match, de los Cobos has a decision to make in regards to who he’ll start in the central midfield.
Logan Pause and Baggio Husidic got the nod in last week’s 1-0 loss at Philadelphia. Husidic was taken off at halftime of that match, with Freddie Ljungberg – who started the game at forward – dropping into the central midfield for the second. The Pause-Ljungberg pairing was far more effective than the Pause-Husidic duo, and they should start in the center this weekend.
[inline_teaser:317483]3) Who will pair with Castillo at forward?
De los Cobos indicated Wednesday that Designated Player Nery Castillo will likely start at forward on Saturday. Who will join him up top is a more complicated matter.
The coach listed Patrick Nyarko – normally a winger – and Collins John as two players who could begin the game as Castillo’s strike partner. Nyarko and Castillo were the first team strikers during a scrimmage on Wednesday. Nyarko was forced out after picking up what appeared to be a slight hip injury.
De los Cobos said that forward Brian McBride, who missed last Saturday’s match with what he called a dead leg, should be available off the bench on Saturday.
4) Back line notes
Defender Deris Umanzor could get his second consecutive start at right back on Saturday. Other right back options Dasan Robinson (right hamstring strain) and Steven Kinney (left quad contusion) are currently hampered by injuries. Robinson is listed as doubtful and Kinney – who didn’t train on Tuesday or Wednesday – is listed as probable.
Center back C.J. Brown should return to the starting lineup after being given last weekend off to rest. He’ll likely pair Wilman Conde in the middle.
Left back Gonzalo Segares should return to the starting lineup after serving a two-game red card suspension.
Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.