The Chicago Fire look for their first win of 2013 as they welcome Chivas USA to Toyota Park Sunday afternoon. Live coverage begins on My50 at 3:30pm CT with UniMas and La Ley 107.9FM picking up at 4pm CT (TV Listings).
Five things you should know about today's game...
* Let’s just get this one out of the way… It’s been 346 minutes since the Fire last scored a regular season goal (Patrick Nyarko’s 14th minute strike vs. D.C. October 27 last year). This unfortunate stat means the team could break the club record for most minutes without a goal Sunday vs. Chivas USA.
The current record sits at 401 minutes in a span of time that was largely taken up by a four-match scoreless streak in September 2010. While there was little doubt that last Saturday’s scoreless draw at Sporting KC was a positive result, the lack of goals has admittedly been frustrating.
I predicted that the Fire would win this game and I still believe that will happen but a goal before the 56th minute would be great.
Athletico Coaching Corner: Chivas USA
* Chivas: Effective or Cynical? We’ve spoken all week about Jose Luis Sanchez Sola and the high-pressure 3-5-2 (or is it 3-4-3?) he has Chivas USA playing this year.
READ: The Tactics of el Chelis
There are certainly advantages to sparring against a team that will play this way but one of the disadvantages is the high rate of fouls Chivas are willing to commit.
Under Chelis’ system, Chivas USA will immediately try to win the ball back when they’re dispossessed and this inevitably leads to a higher rate of fouls.
Prior to Saturday’s games, the Goats led the league by some margin with 60 fouls in their first three matches. After last night's matches, Chivas sit third in Fouls Committed but just five behind first-place New York with one less game played...
Some will call it effective (they do have four points from three games) but Fire fans will likely see it as cynical when the hits begin coming on someone like Patrick Nyarko Sunday.
The Ghanaian winger has already suffered 14 fouls in the team’s first three matches this season.
* Return the Captain! At the very least, Fire midfielder/defender Logan Pause seems set to make the 18 for the first time this season Sunday afternoon.
Now into his 11th year in MLS, Pause has seen the different incarnation’s of Chivas USA since they entered the league in 2005 and had this to say about their switch back to an emphasis on Latin players:
“One of the freedoms the league allows is for different ownership groups to make decisions how they see fit,” said the Fire captain. “Having a Mexican owner and going back to their roots with bringing in a lot of Latin players is something we’ve seen them do before. I’m not the one to judge whether it’s right or wrong or whether it works or doesn’t.
"The league offers the opportunity for different philosophies and that’s good to be part of.”
Previewing Chivas USA
* A Good Streak... This is not the same Chivas USA we’ve been used to but it’s still the same club that the Fire haven’t lost to since 2008.
Currently, the team is on an eight-game unbeaten streak against the Goats (and its nine if you count SuperLiga 2009). The streak is the Fire’s current longest against any MLS opponent.
The Men in Red are 7-0-2 against los Rojiblancos since last falling 2-0 at Chivas on June 19, 2008. In that span, the the Men in Red have won each of their last five home games against the Goats.
* Who's Available? The Fire will be without the services of defender Arne Friedrich (hamstring), defender/midfielder Michael Videira (concussion) and midfielder Victor Pineda (meniscus repair).
READ: Athletico Injury Report
Winger Dilly Duka appeared as Questionable on Friday’s injury report after suffering hamstring tightness in training. He joins defender Steven Kinney (quad strain) in that category.
International duty means they’ll also be without midfielder Joel Lindpere and goalkeeper Sean Johnson. The U.S. international’s absence means we’ll see the return of Paolo Tornaghi to the nets tonight.
The Italian keeper just happens to be the subject of today’s Gameday Q&A. Give it a read...
Stay warm and enoy the game!