The Fire will hope to earn their first win of the season as they welcome the New York Red Bulls (4pm CT on ESPN2/La Ley 107.9FM). Here are Five Things you should know about today's game...
1) Logan Pause Return?
Expect to see Logan Pause make his first appearance of 2013 today. The captain’s four-game absence is uncharacteristic to say the least.
Always one of the fittest players in the side, Pause missed the first three games of the season after a quad injury flared up just before the season opener at LA. The 11-year Fire veteran made the bench against Chivas USA two weeks ago but didn’t see the field in the defeat.
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Pause, Lindpere Preview Red Bulls
Prior to the season, Pause had appeared in 61 of a possible 68 MLS regular season games with his last four-match absence coming in April and May 2010. The 31-year-old’s veteran leadership will be welcome back on the field as the Fire look for their first win of 2013 Sunday.
2) A shift to the left for Lindpere?
If he plays in Sunday’s match, Fire midfielder Joel Lindpere will make his 100th MLS appearance in his first game vs. former club New York Red Bulls.
With Pause likely returning to the lineup and the team having gone with a more defensive shape in midfield the past two matches, could the Estonian international move out left where he played much of last season in New York?
“It depends if you have the injuries there,” Lindpere told Chicago-Fire.com this week. “We have lots of guys injured so maybe I have to fill those shoes. Let’s see how it goes. I would love to play in the center and be available but I know when results aren’t there and injuries occur that the coaches have to make changes.
“If the team hasn’t won, then things like that must happen. It’s not my decision, I just want to help the team get the first win.”
3) Chris Rolfe: The Good and the Bad.
The Good News: Chris Rolfe also seems likely to be in the starting 11 and he’ll earn his 150th career MLS appearance if he plays on Sunday. The Kettering, Ohio product currently sits 11th in Fire all-time regular season appearances, just two behind Jim Curtin (151).
The Bad News: The veteran Fire striker is one game away from equaling the longest regular season goal-less drought of his career (10 games from July-September 2008). Rolfe last scored what would go on to be the 2012 Fire Goal of the Year in a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Columbus on September 22.
Athletico Coaching Corner: New York
Breaking the drought would obviously be good for Rolfe’s confidence but also for the team… The Fire are unbeaten in the last eight matches Rolfe has scored (6-0-2 dating back to August 2009).
More Good News: Rolfe has seven goals all-time against New York, second only to his eight against Columbus. Should he bag two on Sunday, it would mark his 49th and 50th goals across all competitions. Lots of good reasons to score...
4) Injuries… There are a few.
Red Bull head coach Mike Petke was quoted Sunday as saying the team would be without Argentine striker Fabian Espindola for the second straight match. He also said Thierry Henry would make the trip but seemed to indicate he wouldn’t get the start.
On the Fire side, while Logan Pause is back and Steven Kinney and Michael Videira were removed from the Athletico Injury Report, Patrick Nyarko, Dilly Duka and Alex remained questionable this week.
While German defender Arne Friedrich is in full health, he told reporters this week he was also unlikely to play Sunday.
5) History vs. Red Bull
The Fire are 0-3-1 to start the season so perhaps facing Red Bull at home is the best medicine. The Men in Red are unbeaten in the team's last 10 home matches (6-0-4) against the Red Bulls/MetroStars franchise, in a streak that began back to October 5, 2005.