The Chicago Fire head to Houston tonight in search of their first win in the Bayou City since April 29, 2007 (Coverage is LIVE 8pm CT on NBC Sports Network, 8:15pm on La Ley 107.9 FM).
Here are Five Things You Should Know about tonight’s game…
Double the Fire
Catch a double dose of Fire tonight as the club’s U-19 side plays for the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championship vs. Lehigh Valley United, live at 6:30pm CT on Fox Soccer Channel.
The U-19s advanced to tonight’s final after going 1-0-2 in group play and drawing Lehigh Valley 1-1 on Friday morning.
Crucial Game for Positioning
With the Dynamo (29pts, 19 GP) sitting five points ahead of the Fire (24pts, 20 GP) in the final Eastern Conference playoff spot, Saturday night’s match is one of two crucial six-pointers the Men in Red will face the next two weeks.
Other matches to keep in mind in the MLS Eastern Conference playoff race: sixth place New England (27pts, 20 GP) visits lowly D.C. United at 6:00pm CT while eighth place Columbus (23pts, 20 GP) visits ninth place Toronto FC at 1:00pm CT.
Different look in central midfield?
After nearly a month on the shelf with a lower back injury, Fire captain Logan Pause returned as a substitute in the team’s 4-1 victory over D.C. United last Saturday. In his absence, Brazilian midfielder Alex put together a strong run of starts, giving the Fire a bit more in the attack.
With the heat in Houston, their ability in attack and the already very fit Pause gaining another week of training, it makes you wonder if the Fire captain might return in tandem next to Jeff Larentowicz in central midfield.
More time for Quincy Amarikwa?
Having earned just 14 starts out of 73 career MLS matches, first-year Fire forward Quincy Amarikwa has made a career out of coming off the bench. Though he’s played just 114 minutes in six sub appearances for the Fire this year, Amarikwa has almost always provided danger in his limited time on the field.
Back on May 25, Amarikwa earned what was certainly the biggest goal of the season to date, flying through to late to grab a 1-1 draw away to Real Salt Lake.
Last week against D.C. United, Amarikwa entered for the injured Dilly Duka in the 47th minute and earned the penalty kick that ended up being the team’s fourth goal in the 56th minute.
“I was called upon to come out and add some energy to the game and bring what I could and I feel like I took advantage of the opportunity,” Amarikwa said this week.
READ: Duka a no-go vs. Dynamo
Asked if he was frustrated with not receiving more playing time, the five-year MLS veteran said, “If you’re a player and you say you’re not frustrated with not playing, you’re lying. I’d love to play more, I feel I’m doing what I can to prove a case for more minutes, I think that’s why I got more time vs. D.C.
“All I can do is perform when I’m out there and hope it results in more playing time.”
Weather in Houston
Is supposed to rain in Houston this afternoon but should be mostly clear by game time. Temperature forecast is 85 degrees with 30% humidity. Not as bad as it could be…