A blockbuster trade, facing a young coach, a rookie battle and a little bit more #PickPat are all part of today’s Five Things ahead of tonight’s match against the Vancouver Whitecaps at Toyota Park. Live coverage of the match begins at 7pm CT on CSN Chicago with kickoff set for 7:30pm CT (coverage begins on 97.5 FM ESPN Deportes).
1) GETTING READY FOR LE RICHARDS… Doing this article the day before seems like a good idea until New York and Vancouver pull off a blockbuster trade on Friday night… What were the chances the Whitecaps would send Sebastian Le Toux to the Red Bulls in exchange for Dane Richards and allocation money? Let’s just say that’s why you keep your office e-mail connected to your phone at all times.
Having played the Fire with the Red Bulls less than a month ago, Richards joined his new side in Chicago Friday night and will be available for selection tonight. Don’t expect to see a start from the Jamaican but wouldn’t be surprised to see him make his first Whitecaps appearance in the match.
COACH'S TAKE on Vancouver
On the flip, the Fire will get to face Le Toux in the team’s midweek, mid-day match on Wednesday in Jersey.
2) A LITTLE COACHING HISTORY… Tonight marks the third all-time meeting between the Fire and Whitecaps with the visitors holding a 1-0-1 advantage over the Men in Red. With Martin Rennie now the man in charge in Vancouver, the Fire will face a different head coach for the third straight game against the Whitecaps.
Last season, Teitur Thordason led the Whitecaps to a 0-0 draw at against the Carlos de los Cobos-led Fire at Toyota Park on May 7. Just three weeks later, both men would be out of jobs as Thordason was replaced on May 30 by former Fire defender and assistant coach Tom Soehn while Frank Klopas moved down from the front office to replace de los Cobos.
Soehn got the best of his former Fire teammate at the return leg in Vancouver, a decisive 4-2 victory on August 7.
3) A LITTLE MORE COACHING HISTORY… Though it’s the first time Rennie will lead the Whitecaps against the Fire, its not the first time the 37-year-old manager has faced the club at Toyota Park. The Scotsman led the USL Second Division’s Cleveland City Stars up against the Fire during a third round Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match on July 1, 2008.
Mike Banner tallied a brace to go along with Calen Carr’s 13th minute strike and Chad Barrett last goal in a Fire uniform en route to a 4-1 victory over Rennie’s side which featured former Fire forward Floyd Franks.
Rennie hasn’t gone the traditional route most MLS coaches take in their careers, having gained promotion as a head coach from the Premier Development League all the way to MLS in the span of six years.
As a product myself of the lower levels of North American soccer I can appreciate Martin's rise. I think you will to. For more on his story, read this excellent profile.
4) ROOKIE OF THE YEAR CANDIDATES FACE OFF… After making his MLS debut back in May, Fire center back Austin Berry’s name has been floated amongst the candidates for MLS Rookie of the Year. He should see plenty of one of his competitors for the award in Darren Mattocks Saturday night.
The Whitecaps rookie forward has tallied six goals in just nine appearances this season, three of which have come in the team’s last two matches. In case you missed it, check out his second goal on the night in Wednesday’s 3-2 loss at Toronto FC.
Austin spoke to Anthony Zillis about his rookie form and facing off against Mattocks in this article yesterday.
5) #PICKPAT INTO THE FINAL DAY… The letters have been written. Dave Kaplan and the team have shown their support. Multitudes of Fire fans have tweeted to MLS Commissioner Don Garber (@TheSoccerDon) and All-Star head coach Ben Olsen (@DCUnited) to do it.
Would a goal and assist performance tonight from Patrick Nyarko seal the deal for the fifth-year Ghanaian attacker to make his way to the 2012 MLS All-Star Game?