Be sure to catch tonight’s game at Columbus LIVE at 6pm on the mother-ship, NBC 5 Chicago!
Until then, here are five things you should know about tonight’s match against the Crew…
1) ROLFE TRAVELS… It’s been just over a month since the Fire brought Chris Rolfe back to Chicago. The same week he returned, the club’s second all-time leading goal scorer suffered a rolled ankle on a freak play in practice that would put off his Fire re-debut. Rolfe returned to training this week and Frank Klopas said Thursday that the Fire striker would be part of the squad of 20 that travels to Columbus and Detroit for the two games in four day Midwest road swing. It’s not certain he’ll be in the 18 on Saturday but the progress is good to see.
PREVIEW: Fire at Columbus
2) PDL ALUMNI…While the Fire currently have three of the club’s PDL alumni on the team (Rolfe, Austin Berry, Tony Walls), the Crew far outpace them. The yellow-clad team currently roster five former members of the Fire PDL squad: Danny O’Rourke (2002-04), Rich Balchan (2008-09), Eric Gehrig (2008-09), Kirk Urso (2010) and Ethan Finlay (2010).
I’m not sure how many of the quintet you’ll see tonight as Gehrig is the only one of the five not on the Crew’s injury report heading into the match. O’Rourke looked to be in a lot of pain as he came out of Wednesday’s 2-0 win but is listed as probable tonight.
3) HALFWAY TO 100… Coming off what looked to be his most confident performance of the season in Wednesday’s 2-1 win against FC Dallas, Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson is set to make his 50th MLS appearance for the Fire tonight.
Drafted in 2010, Johnson won the starting job halfway through his rookie campaign and save a few small stretches, has remained the starter since. The soon-to-be 23-year-old has racked up a 17-15-17 record, earning 11 clean sheets in that time. Perhaps most impressively, Johnson saved the fourth penalty of 11 faced in his career Wednesday night, a stop that helped spur the team on to its fifth win of the season.
4) IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY FIGURED OUT…the Fire are helping over 600 fans go to today’s match at Crew Stadium. Yesterday I wrote a story about the genesis of the idea that took 500 fans to FireHouse East (#FHEAST) last year. Today, I’m proud to say I’ll be one of 600 people cheering the Fire on to victory from behind the south goal.
5) WE HAVE A BLOG NOW… Yesterday, the blog that served as the inspiration for me sitting in a cold tub with Dan Gargan officially launched. “Always on the Inside” as it’s called will bring fans unique access to the Fire and soccer in Chicago. Give what an occasion today looks to be, I’ll be live blogging “On the Inside” on “Always on the Inside” during our six-plus hour trip to Columbus.
You should really head over there. Go do it. Just click here. Or there. Or mostly anywhere on this last line.