It’s another Saturday match day as the Chicago Fire welcome their greatest MLS rivals Sporting KC back to Toyota Park (TICKETS). Thanks to a promotion from a sandwich shop with a catchy name last season, the folks in Kansas have made the Sporting/Fire encounter bigger than those in Cascadia and the Classico in Los Angeles. With the trouble Glasgow Rangers have seen recently, one might make the case that tonight’s fierce clash may take the rivalry past that of the Old Firm in Scotland.
With that, here are five things you should know about tonight’s game vs. Sporting Kansas City (Pre-game at 7:00pm CT on CSN Chicago)
1) THAT WAS SARCASM…Satire aside, Sporting has been quite good this year. They were also quite good last year after moving into their shiny new stadium, LiveSTRONG Sporting Park, finishing atop the Eastern Conference and coming within one game of their third MLS Cup final appearance.
PREVIEW: Fire vs. Sporting KC
Sporting currently sit where they ended the regular season last year, back on top of the Eastern Conference after winning their first seven matches of the season before dropping two-straight the past two weeks to Portland and Montreal.
2) “THE RIVALRY”… It makes sense that Sporting would consider the Fire rivals. Chicago is closest in geography but in terms of on-field performance, the Fire have pretty well dominated the former Wizards, going 21-10-9 in 40 regular season matches since 1996.
The numbers in Chicago are much more skewed, with the Fire holding a 15-2-3 edge over 20 matches in the Windy City. For those whose math skills are worse than mine, I’ll just underline the fact that out of 20 games in our fair city, KC has taken points in just five.
3) “THE RIVALRY Pt. 2”… While the Fire have dominated overall, Kansas City has won in the two most important matches played between the two clubs. Who doesn’t remember Tony Meola making 10 saves during MLS Cup 2000 in D.C.? Then there’s Igor Simutenkov’s 95th minute “Golden Goal” four years later, marking the Fire’s first-ever loss in a U.S. Open Cup final.
KC will always have those two matches while the Fire will have the Fourth of July Massacre of 2001.
4) KLOPAS AND VERMES…Both team’s coaches came into their current roles after previously serving in the Technical Director role for their respective clubs. The two were also teammates with the U.S. Men’s National Team, playing together on the 1988 U.S. Olympic side. In all, the pair played eight matches together for the U.S. Klopas also began his MLS career with Kansas City, scoring seven goals in 54 matches from 1996-97 before joining the expansion Fire in his hometown in 1998.
5) PAUSE #2… Fire captain Logan Pause moved into second in all-time club regular season appearances last season. If he plays today, he’ll move past Zach Thornton into second on the club’s all-competitions appearance list with 277 games played. He’ll still need nearly 100 games to catch Wednesday’s Ring of Fire inductee C.J. Brown at 372.