BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The Chicago Fire remain mostly healthy ahead of Wednesday’s fourth round Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup clash vs. the Columbus Crew (LIVE 7:30pm CT on Chicago-Fire.com).
Defenders Arne Friedrich and Steven Kinney are the only players that remain out with long-term injury while midfielders Joel Lindpere and Victor Pineda remain unavailable for selection as they’re on international duty.
The one question on health at Tuesday’s training session came with the status of captain Logan Pause who came out at halftime of the team’s 2-0 third round U.S. Open Cup win two weeks ago at Charlotte and didn’t play that weekend against D.C. United.
Pause was however an unused sub in Saturday’s 2-2 comeback draw vs. Portland and Fire head coach Frank Klopas said the captain is “good now” from the start on Wednesday.
While the Fire are expected to field a strong team vs. Columbus, with the team in the midst of 11 games in 49 days stretch, Klopas recognizes the need to use different players in upcoming matches.
“There are a lot of games coming up and I think the ability to have depth in the team and rely on all the guys is key. You’re not going to have 11 guys that play throughout the whole season. I think it’s important now in this stretch to have all the guys healthy and ready to go.”
On the Crew
Columbus comes into Wednesday’s match a little more beat up than the Fire.
Dan & Kevin talk Crew Open Cup clash
The team took a major blow in the third round when midfielder Eddie Gaven tore his ACL, effectively ending his season.
READ: Athletico Injury Report
Both suffering from hamstring strains, the team is also missing the services of defenders Chad Marshall and Augustin Viana while attacker Jairo Arrieta remains on international duty with Costa Rica.
Columbus head coach Robert Warzycha told TheCrew.com Tuesday that with all the injuries the team has, "we don't have a choice [but to play younger players]'.
Still, the Crew have former Fire forward Dominic Oduro and potent attacking presence Federico Higuain, who says he’s eager to play against the Fire Wednesday.
“They’re dangerous players and I think it’s a whole team effort,” said Klopas. “We know about Dom’s pace and Higuain is a difference maker, an excellent player and he’s someone you need to have your eyes on for 90 minutes.
“It’s going to take a whole team effort and that kind of attitude from the whole group throughout the team being able to stay compact.”
Playing the Bye
Both sides have a break in MLS action around this Open Cup fixture.
While the Fire drew with Portland Saturday, the Crew sat idle on the weekend after last Wednesday’s 3-0 defeat vs. Philadelphia.
The Fire will have this weekend off while Columbus hosts Eastern Conference leaders Montreal Saturday.
“For us we’re coming off a difficult and exciting game against Portland and it’s a short recovery – we don’t have a game on the weekend and the guys know that. I think the important thing is that we’re playing against a very good team, we’re taking the game very seriously and we’re playing at home which is always a good thing.”
Klopas also reiterated the club’s commitment to trying to tie the competition record of five tournament titles in 2013.
“It’s a tournament we talk about it being five games and we have a history in this tournament and the guys know it, we’ve talked about it and they’re going to give everything on the field for a victory.”