FIRE FIGHT FOR PLAYOFF BERTH WITH TWO EASTERN CONFERENCE CLASHES
The Fire (16-9-5; 53 points) will host the Philadelphia Union at Toyota Park on Wednesday, Oct. 3 at 7:30 p.m. CT (NBC5.2/97.5 ESPN Deportes) before taking on the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 2:30 p.m. CT (NBC/97.5 ESPN Deportes).
Wednesday’s match is the third and final game between the Fire and the Union this season. In the first leg of the series, the Men in Red hosted the Union March 24 as Dominic Oduro’s 28th minute header gave the Fire a 1-0 home opening victory. A brace by Chris Rolfe in the 43rd and 56th minutes combined with Arne Friedrich’s first goal of the season in the 45th minute helped the Fire rally to a 3-1 victory on Aug. 12 at PPL Park in Chester, Penn. Fire legends Peter Nowak, Chris Armas and Cuauhtémoc Blanco, will be in attendance and will be honored at halftime.
Saturday’s match is the third and final game between the Fire and the Red Bulls this season. The Fire welcomed the Red Bulls to Toyota Park and found an early goal from Patrick Nyarko in just the 4th minute before using a 68th minute strike from Gonzalo Segares 81st minute tap-in from Chris Rolfe to defeat the Red Bulls 3-1. In the mid-week, mid-day match in triple digit heat, the Fire fell 1-0 to a Thierry Henry wonder-strike at Red Bull Arena July 18.
The Union enter the match after dropping a 3-2 decision to the Columbus Crew Sept. 29 at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, effectively ending their bid for a spot in the post-season.
In New York’s most recent match, Thierry Henry led the Red Bulls with a goal and three assists as they defeated Toronto FC 4-1 on Saturday, Sept. 29 at Red Bull Arena.
CHICAGO FIRE TRAINING SCHEDULE: Oct. 1 – Oct. 8
Monday, Oct. 1: Training 9:30 a.m. CT*^
Tuesday, Oct. 2: Training 9:30 a.m. CT*^
Wednesday, Oct. 3: Chicago Fire vs. Philadelphia Union – Toyota Park – 7:30 p.m. CT (NBC5.2/97.5 ESPN Deportes)
Thursday, Oct. 4: Training 11:00 a.m. CT*^
Friday, Oct. 5: Training 9:30 a.m. CT*^
Travel to New York
Saturday, Oct. 6: Chicago Fire at New York Red Bulls – Red Bull Arena – 2:30 p.m. CT (NBC/97.5 ESPN Deportes)
Sunday, Oct. 7: Return to Chicago
Monday, Oct. 8: 15th Anniversary Celebration - Chicago History Museum (1601 North Clark Street) – 7:00 p.m. CT
*Training is open to the media. Fire players and coaches will be made available immediately following training.
^Training times are subject to change. Please contact Brendan Hannan at 720.937.8962 for media requests.
CHICAGO FIRE vs. Philadelphia Union
- The Fire hold a 3-2-1 record against the Philadelphia Union, including a 2-0-1 record in matches played at home.
- The Fire are 9-0-1 when hosting Eastern Conference opponents at Toyota Park this season and 13-5-3 overall against the East in 2012.
- In a streak that has now reached 19 matches, the Men in Red have not lost to an Eastern Conference foe at Toyota Park since October 12, 2010, going 13-0-6 in that time.
- An appearance in Wednesday evening’s match will mark the 300th competitive appearance by Fire captain Logan Pause. Now in his tenth season with the Fire, Pause currently sits in second with 299 competitive appearances behind C.J. Brown, who in 13 seasons played in a total of 372 competitive matches for the Fire.
- Current Union defender Bakary Soumare spent three seasons with the Fire from 2007-09. Drafted second overall in the 2007 MLS SuperDraft, Soumare went on to appear in 63 regular season matches for the Men in Red. Soumare was a 2008 MLS Defender of the Year finalist and was named to the 2009 MLS All-Star team in 2009. Soumare recently underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his knee and will be out for the remainder of the 2012 MLS season.
- Fire head coach Frank Klopas was dismissed from the match on Sept. 28 against Sporting Kansas City and will miss the match Oct. 3.
- The Men in Red will also be without the services of defender Gonzalo Segares, who will be serving a one-game suspension due to the red card he received Sept. 28 against Sporting Kansas City.
CHICAGO FIRE at New York Red Bulls
- The Fire hold a 21-12-9 all-time regular season advantage over the Red Bulls, including a 9-9-3 record in matches played on the road.
- The Men in Red are 5-7-3 on the road this season.
- Current Red Bulls defender Wilman Conde spent four seasons with the Fire from 2007-2010. In 73 regular season matches, Conde scored four goals and added four assists. In 2009 Conde was named the club’s Defender of the Year and was a member of the MLS Best XI.
- Two current Red Bulls, midfielder Brandon Barklage and defender Tyler Ruthven spent time with the Chicago Fire PDL during their collegiate careers.
EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF RACE
The Eastern Conference playoff race remained tightly packed after the slate of weekend matches.
Friday evening’s loss moved the Men in Red to 16-9-5 (53 points) on the season, now five points behind Eastern Conference-leading Sporting Kansas City, who clinched the first playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. Though tied with the New York Red Bulls on 53 points, the Fire currently sit in third place due to the first tie breaker, which is total goals scored for the season. The Fire have played one less game than the other top seven teams in the Eastern Conference.
Only four points separate the teams occupying spots two through five in the Eastern Conference standings.
Two of the remaining four matches will be played at Toyota Park, where the Fire are 9-0-1 when hosting Eastern Conference opponents this season. The Fire have gone unbeaten against Eastern Conference opponents at Toyota Park since they fell 2-0 on Oct. 12, 2010 to Sporting Kansas City, going 13-0-6 in that time.
The Fire have a chance to clinch a spot in the playoffs this week. Below is the breakdown of results that are needed:
Chicago Fire will clinch a playoff spot IF
- Chicago Fire win vs. Philadelphia Union on Wednesday OR New York Red Bulls on Saturday
- Columbus Crew tie or lose vs. Sporting Kansas City on Sunday OR
- Houston Dynamo lose vs. Montréal Impact on Saturday
- Chicago Fire tie vs. Philadelphia Union on Wednesday AND New York Red Bulls on Saturday AND
- Columbus Crew lose vs. Sporting Kansas City on Sunday
CHICAGO FIRE TO CELEBRATE 15th ANNIVERSARY
The Chicago Fire Soccer Club will celebrate the Fire’s 15th Anniversary during the Chicago Fire vs. Philadelphia Union match at Toyota Park on Wednesday, Oct. 3 (NBC5.2/97.5 ESPN Deportes FM). Fire legends Peter Nowak, Chris Armas and Cuauhtémoc Blanco, will be in attendance and will be honored at halftime. The celebration will continue with the 15th Anniversary Celebration on Monday, Oct. 8 at the Chicago History Museum (1601 North Clark Street).
A special ticket package for the 15th Anniversary match against the Union, which includes a hot dog and a soda, is available for only $25 by clicking here and using the password FIRE. Tickets for the Chicago Fire – Philadelphia Union match are also available by calling 888-MLS-FIRE or visiting www.Chicago-Fire.com.
Following the 15th Anniversary match on Wednesday, Oct. 3, the October 8th Anniversary Planning Committee in association with Section 8 Chicago, the Independent Supporters’ Association of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club Fire will host the 15thAnniversary Celebration at the Chicago History Museum, with proceeds benefiting the Chicago Fire Foundation. Former Fire greats Ante Razov, Lubos Kubik, Peter Nowak and Chris Armas will attend to help celebrate the club’s founding. Tickets for the 15thAnniversary Celebration are $97 and are available here.
Additional Fire legends scheduled to attend the festivities will be unveiled by the Fire and the October 8th Anniversary Planning Committee via the Fire’s twitter account www.twitter.com/ChicagoFire , www.facebook.com/chicagofire the Fire Anniversary twitter – www.twitter.com/fireanniversary and Facebook page - www.facebook.com/fireanniversary.
The Chicago Fire Soccer Club was founded on Oct. 8, 1997, the 126th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire. Since the first season in which the Fire won the historic “Double”, winning both the MLS Cup and U.S. Open Cup in 1998, the Fire have amassed a rich history which includes a record four U.S. Open Cup trophies, the 2003 Supporters Shield and three MLS Conference Championships.
CHICAGO FIRE FALL TO SPORTING KANSAS CITY 2-0
The Chicago Fire had opportunities on the road but saw its four-game winning streak come to an end at the hands of two Graham Zusi goals as Sporting KC (17-7-7; 58 points) prevailed 2-0 in front of a record crowd of 21,010 at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park on Friday night. The Men in Red currently sit in third place in the Eastern Conference with 53 points and a game in hand.
The Fire nearly got on the board in the opening minutes when Sherjill MacDonald found Chris Rolfe open at the top of the 18. The Fire leading scorer would smash a driven ball just wide of the near post and out of play in the 6th minute.
But it was Sporting Kansas City who played the aggressor early and the home side was rewarded in the 11th minute when Kei Kamara beat Gonzalo Segares into space on the right side. The Sierra Leon forward dribbled into space and played a low driven cross across the penalty area finding Graham Zusi who directed the ball past Sean Johnson into the corner of the net to give the home side a 1-0 advantage.
An acrobatic Sean Johnson save kept the Fire within striking distance in the 36th minute. Zusi looked to return to favor, picking out Kamara at the back post. Kamara placed his header toward the top left corner where Johnson dove to parry the ball up and off the underside of the crossbar.
The Fire came out of the break looking to create opportunities to find the equalizing goal. The Fire slowly broke down Sporting KC’s pressure and eventually found space on the counter in the 73rd minute. Second half substitute Dominic Oduro led the break and slipped a ball to MacDonald with room at the edge of the box. The Dutch striker put his shot on frame only to have it deflected out of play by Sporting ‘keeper Jimmy Nielsen.
Frank Klopas used all three subs to push the game for the visitors. Two-time Mexican World Cup veteran Guille Franco made his Fire debut in the 71st minute. In his first action since May, Franco showed his skill in the late moments of the match. In the 87th minute, the Fire forward beat a KC defender in the box to earn a corner kick. In the 90th minute, Franco combined with Arne Friedrich before having his feet cut out from him as he rushed in on goal, but no foul was whistled.
Sporting Kansas City iced the game and became the first Eastern Conference side to clinch a 2012 MLS Cup Playoff berth when Zusi bookended his night with his second tally. Moments after Fire defender Gonzalo Segares had been issued his walking papers for a second yellow on a foul on Sapong in front of the Sporting bench, the home side found space on the counter attack. Sapong would eventually lay off to Zusi and the U.S. international slotted home the ball to give Sporting a 2-0 lead and first place in the Eastern Conference.
FIRE IN THE NEWS
Happy homecoming: Chris Rolfe’s return to Chicago rekindled Fire as MLS contender - Brian Straus - Sporting News - September 27, 2012
Fire acquisitions cut into Oduro’s playing time - Jack McCarthy - Chicago Tribune - September 27, 2012
Gonzalo Segares: ‘El partido contra Kansas City va a ser una batalla’ - Jose Luis Sanchez Pando - Hoy - September 28, 2012
Monday Morning Centerback: For young goalkeepers, it isn’t easy being green - Soccer By Ives - September 24, 2012
Rolfe becoming a leader in second stint with Chicago - Anthony Zilis - MLSsoccer.com - September 26, 2012
Rookie Rankings: Who has pole position before final push? - Andrew Wiebe - MLSsoccer.com - September 26, 2012
CHICAGO FIRE TEAM WRITER, JEFF CRANDALL FEATURES ON CHICAGO-FIRE.COM
Playoff Math: Not a disastrous weekend – September 30, 2012
Five Things You Should Know About #SKCvCHI – September 28, 2012
Fire Buoyed by Presence of Veteran Arne Friedrich – September 27, 2012
All-In Podcast with Frank Klopas – September 26, 2012
Fire Veterans Know A Lot On The Line This Weekend – September 26, 2012