The Fire face a tough test tonight as they travel to take on on league leading San Jose at Buck Shaw Stadium. LIVE coverage of the match begins at 9pm CT on NBC Nonstop (Channel Listings) with kickoff set for 9:30pm CT on 97.5 FM. Be sure to join me for the Section 8 Chicago watch party at Union Park Lounge (228 S. Racine).
Here are Five Things You Should Know heading into tonight’s match vs. league leading San Jose.
1) BUSY WEEK… It’s been a busy week around the club as the Fire sent two players in Federico Puppo and Rafael Robayo on loan to make way for the signing of Dutch striker Sherjill MacDonald Tuesday and the trade which brought Uruguayan midfielder Alvaro Fernandez to the team late Friday. Both are Designated Players.
Will they debut tonight? MacDonald trained with the team throughout the week and traveled to San Jose but earlier this week on the All-In Podcast admitted that he’s not at the same fitness level as his new teammates.
In the case of Fernandez, the Uruguayan midfielder actually trained with Seattle Friday before being told of the trade in the afternoon. He was expected to join the team in San Jose ahead of the match but Fire head coach Frank Klopas said yesterday it could be unlikely for him to play.
2) NO PAPPA…NO BEITASHOUR… Both teams will be missing a regular starter due to yellow card accumulation tonight. The Fire won’t have joint leading scorer, midfielder Marco Pappa while the Earthquakes will be without MLS All-Star right back Steven Beitashour for the first time this season.
PREVIEW: Fire vs. Quakes
3) ALSO NO SEGARES… As if not having Pappa wouldn’t be a big enough blow, the Fire could be without left back Gonzalo Segares tonight after suffering an ankle injury in training this week.
If the Costa Rican international is unable to go, Frank Klopas will look to either switch right back Dan Gargan to the left side (ironically where he played in last year’s match at San Jose when Segares was suspended) or start rookie Hunter Jumper on the left where he’s had spot appearances this season.
When Segares was suspended for the June 29 win at Sporting KC, it was Gargan that started in the spot before switching to the right as Hunter Jumper entered for Arne Friedrich.
4) THE WEST COAST… The Pacific Time Zone hasn’t been so good for the Fire of late. After going 3-1-0 out west in 2010 (one of the victories was a 3-0 win at San Jose September 29), the team has gone 1-7-2 across all competitions since last season on the left coast.
Luckily for the Fire, that one victory came this season when they came back to earn a 2-1 win at Chivas USA on May 4.
5) ATTACKING TRI-FECTA… San Jose are the league leaders. With 17 goals, their striker Chris Wondolowski also spearheads the most offensive team in the league but he’s not the only reason for the Quakes success with hitting the back of the net this year. Wondo has had support in receiving nine goals from Alan Gordon and another six from Steven Lenhart.
Together the three have combined for 32 of the team’s 44 goals (nearly 73%). All veterans of the league, the trio have combined for five goals in 21 all-time matches against the Fire. Wondolowski leads the way with four goals between his time in San Jose and Houston, Steven Lenhart tallied one with the Crew, while Alan Gordon has never scored in eight matches against the Men in Red.
Steven Piggott took a more tactical look at how to handle Wondo and Co but in summary, if the Fire can keep the three off the scoresheet, they should be able to come away with something out of this match.