The Chicago Fire return to league play Sunday, welcoming 2011 Eastern Conference champions the Houston Dynamo back to Toyota Park (TICKETS). Be sure to tweet your questions about the match using #FireTV for Dan Kelly and Evan Whitfield to answer during the pre-game shown beginning at 5:30pm CT on CSN Chicago. Kickoff is set for 6:00pm CT on CSN Chicago, Galavision (Channel Listing by Provider) or listen via ESPN Deportes Radio 97.5FM beginning at 6:00pm CT.
Below, five things Jeff Crandall thinks every Fire fan should know going into Sunday's Dynamo clash.
1) NYARKO A CENTURION… I’ve been on this one for a few weeks but coming off his re-signing with the club 10 days ago, Ghanaian attacker Patrick Nyarko will write his name among 13 other players past and present by making his 100th career regular season appearance for the Fire Sunday night vs. Houston. The timely milestone points to what a coup re-signing the five-year Fire veteran was.
Listen to what Patrick had to say on April 5 about what making his 100th appearance at home would mean via the All-In Podcast (April 5).
2) MISSIN’ #5... The news that veteran Fire defender Cory Gibbs would be out four-to-six months following meniscus surgery on Friday came as a pretty big blow. Missing your previous season’s Defender of the Year isn’t happy news for anyone however the Fire have done reasonably well without Cory, going 3-1-6 in matches that Gibbs missed or played less than 45 minutes in last season and unbeaten at home (2-0-3) without the former U.S. international.
Pre-Game Video vs. Houston
3) ARNE’S #17… Actually he’ll be wearing #23 for the Fire this year but that’s not what this is about. Gibbs’ injury absence will feel like less of a blow as veteran German center back Arne Friedrich looks ready to make his Fire debut Sunday night. If he takes the field, the veteran of two FIFA World Cups with Die Mannschaft will become the 17th Fire player past or present to have made a FIFA World Cup roster.
Can you name the other 16? Scroll to the bottom for the answer…
4) TAX DAY SUCCESS… With Tax Day falling on a Sunday, Fire fans have a few more days to file returns and extensions (remember to do so by Tuesday!). Even though it’s not actually the day so many dread, the Fire have gone unbeaten, going 1-0-2 all-time on April 15.
Previous April 15 matches:
2000 - 1-0 win vs. Miami (Stoitchkov 48’)
2006 - 1-1 draw at Columbus (Rolfe 49’)
2007 - 1-1 draw at Colorado (Barrett 85’)
5) DOM’S AN IRON MAN… Myself and Brendan Hannan found out this week just how fast Dominic Oduro is but with his former Dynamo team returning for another April match, we’re all reminded of the trade that saw him come here in exchange for Calen Carr on March 23 last year. Both players went on to help their teams last season but Oduro’s had slightly more individual success, scoring 14 goals and being the only Fire player to appear in every regular season match since the first week of the 2011 campaign. In all, Oduro’s appeared in 36 straight games. I’m not exactly sure where this ranks, but I’m working on it…
#3 Answer: DaMarcus Beasley (2002, 2006, 2010; USA), Carlos Bocanegra (2006, 2010; USA) Cuauhtemoc Blanco (1998, 2002, 2010; Mexico), Jorge Campos (1994, 1998, 2002; Mexico), Frank Klopas (1994; USA), Lubos Kubik (1990; Czechoslovakia), Freddie Ljungberg (2002, 2006; Sweden), Brian McBride (1998, 2002, 2006; USA), Pavel Pardo (1998, 2006; Mexico), Tony Sanneh (2002; USA), Mike Sorber (1994; USA), Hristo Stoitchkov (1994, 1998; Bulgaria), Paulo Wanchope (2002, 2006; Costa Rica), Andy Williams (1998; Jamaica), Josh Wolff (2002, 2006; USA), Eric Wynalda (1990, 1994, 1998; USA)