It's Eastern Conference opponents from here on out for the Chicago Fire. In this edition of Five Things, I congratulate the captain, look at how the guys can move into fourth, talk about a former Fire defender and look at a possible save milestone for Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson. Be sure to tune into tonight's match vs. Philadelphia LIVE at 6pm CT on Galavision or listen via 97.5 FM ESPN Deportes Radio.
1) CONGRATULATIONS ARE IN ORDER for Chicago Fire captain Logan Pause should he take the field tonight. If he does, the 10th year Fire midfielder will make his 250th regular season appearance for the club, just the second Fire player to do so after CJ Brown first accomplished the feat in his injury shortened season of 2008.
Pause becomes just the fifth player in league history to reach the mark with one club, joining Brown (296 career appearances), Jaime Moreno (329 career appearances with DC), Cobi Jones (306 career appearances with LA) and recently traded midfielder Shalrie Joseph (261 appearances with New England).
PREVIEW: Fire vs. Union
The captain’s appearance two weeks ago at San Jose kept up his mark of appearing in at least 21 regular season matches every season he’s been with the club and another milestone isn't too far off. Should he continue to appear regularly, the veteran will make his 300th competitive appearance for the club on September 29 at Sporting KC.
2) THIS WEEKEND OFFERED UP some interesting standing points in the Eastern Conference with Houston falling to third place following New York’s 2-0 defeat of the Dynamo Friday night and Sporting KC’s 2-1 win over fourth place D.C. United Saturday. With those results, the Fire can move past DC into fourth place tonight and keep themselves in the thick of what looks to be a knockdown drag-out ware for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference.
3) ONE PLAYER THAT WILL HOPE to have a say about the above happening moving up the standings is former Fire defender Bakary Soumare who will hope to make his Union debut tonight after going 90 minutes in the reserves last week.
The Fire’s 2007 first round draft pick returned to MLS earlier this summer after two and a half seasons in France and Germany, joining Philadelphia through the allocation process. Recently listed as a nominee for the club’s Top 15 players of all-time, the Malian international made 71 competitive appearances from 2007-09, earning the club’s 2008 Defender of the Year Award to go along with his being an MLS Best XI selection that season.
4) JOHN HACKWORTH HAS been rather good for Philadelphia since taking over the side an interim basis from former Fire captain Peter Nowak back on June 13.
Sitting with a 2-6-2 mark at that point, Hackworth has helped the third-year MLS club to a 5-5-0 record since taking the reins, making an immediate impact at home, with the team winning it’s last four home matches at PPL Park.
If I haven’t given enough reason as to why this won’t be an easy match, just look at the fact that despite Philly’s standing of ninth in East, the club is tied with the Fire and Seattle for the fourth best defensive record in the league, having conceded 24 goals in 20 matches.
5) IT’S NO SECRET that Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson has been simply incredible this summer and if you look at his career Saves statistics, that certainly holds true. With six saves tonight, Johnson will equal his career high of 72 saves in a season, set over his 28 regular season appearances last year. The eye-opening thing about that stat is that Sunday night’s game will mark just his 20th appearance of 2012.
I’m putting the fans on notice that this is on the docket, though probably unlikely to occur tonight as the Union haven’t forced any MLS goalkeeper to make more than four saves in a match this seaso