The Chicago Fire return north of the border (where they're 4-4-2 all-time) to face the Montreal Impact Saturday afternoon (3pm CT on NBC Sports Network / La Ley 107.9 FM). Here are Five Things You Should Know about Saturday's clash in Quebec.
The Question at Right Back…
Michael Videira seems most obvious as he played convincingly there in the team’s 0-0 draw at Sporting KC back on March 16.
Johnson, Anibaba Preview Montreal
Ironically, it was his 83rd minute concussion that opened the door for Thompson to get the run of four consecutive games he’s seen up to this point.
The other option would be to push captain Logan Pause back to the defensive line. The 11th year Fire midfielder has filled in at the spot when needed throughout his Fire career and looked likely to be the team’s starting right back this year before a quad injury kept him out of the first four matches of the season.
If Pause starts there, it’ll mark the fifth Fire player in eight matches to have a go at right back this year.
Montreal’s Midweek Song and Dance
Though the Impact were off from MLS play last weekend, they did fall 2-0 at Toronto FC in the first leg of their Amway Canadian Championship semifinal series.
New Montreal head coach Marco Schallibaum elected to play a mostly second-choice side with only Patrice Bernier, Hassoun Camara, Jeb Brovsky and sometimes starters Justin Mapp and Sanna Nyassi taking part.
Under former Fire midfielder Jesse Marsch last season, the Impact did alright managing fixture congestion, going 5-5-3 in matches played within four days of a previous game across all competitions.
Scoring First on the Road
Prior to last week’s win over Columbus, I wrote about the Fire’s impressive record when scoring first since Frank Klopas took over midway through 2011.
For the first time this season, that record improved to 18-0-5 with Jeff Larentowicz’s 83rd minute header Saturday vs. the Crew and hopefully bagging the first goal, even if it comes late, will start to be a trend for the Fire.
Athletico Coaching Corner with Mike Matkovich
Just for reference today, the Fire are 6-0-2 when scoring first on the road under Klopas
Striking Gold in the 83rd Minute
It’s likely all just coincidence but both of the Fire’s game-winning goals this season have come in the 83rd minute.
It was the time when Maicon Santos broke Jamison Olave’s ankles back on April 7 vs. Red Bull as well as when Larentowicz rose up to head home Austin Berry’s flick-on header last week against the Crew.
I’m not going to say there’s anything to this until they score in the 83rd minute again…
Speaking of the 83rd minute…
The fact that game-winners have come so late in the match also means that the Fire have held the lead for just 14 of 630 minutes played this year.
It’s still early in the season but for a gauge, the Fire held the lead over 923 minutes in 2012.