Who: Chicago Fire vs. Pumas UNAM
What: SuperLiga 2010, Group B, Matchday 3
When: Tuesday, July 20, 9:30 pm ET
Where: Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Ill.
TV: Galavisión (Spanish); MLSsoccer.com & SuperLiga2010.com (English)
The Chicago Fire and Pumas UNAM close out SuperLiga’s Group B on Tuesday night. Unfortunately, there won’t be much riding on the matchup, as the Fire (0-2-0) have no hope of advancing to the semifinals while Pumas (0-1-1) will need a small miracle to get out of the group.
Chicago’s tournament has been nothing short of dreadful. The Fire began SuperLiga with a 5-1 loss to Monarcas Morelia last Wednesday and fell victim to a late goal in a 1-0 loss to New England on Saturday.
Pumas’ experience has been only slightly more positive. The Mexico City club opened their tournament with a 1-0 loss at New England on Wednesday and fell behind to Morelia by two goals before clawing their way back for a 2-2 draw on Saturday.
With all hopes of SuperLiga advancement dashed, expect the Fire to use Tuesday’s match as an opportunity to play reserves and work recently recovered players back into the fold.
Head coach Carlos de los Cobos will likely give regular reserves Corben Bone, Deris Umanzor, Peter Lowry and Stefan Dimitrov some time on the field. Tim Ward and Collins John, both of whom returned to action Saturday after long injury absences, should also see the field.
It will be interesting to see who De los Cobos starts between the pipes. Regular starter Andrew Dykstra has struggled at times this season and backup Sean Johnson looked both comfortable and confident in his 90 minutes of action on Saturday. A Johnson start on Tuesday could be a preview of things to come for Chicago.
Pumas’ SuperLiga hopes are hanging by a thread.
Morelia have to lose against New England in the earlier match, and Pumas must make up at least five goals on Monarcas to sneak past their Mexican counterparts and into the semis.
Because they need to make up so many goals, expect Pumas to come out flying. They’ll be looking to pressure the Fire defense all night and could very well give the Chicago back line fits.
Midfielder Leandro Augusto, who scored a marvelous goal against Morelia Saturday night, will be a particularly tough man for the Fire to handle.
In their effort to go forward, the Mexico City club must remain alert and not get caught out of position on a counterattack by Chicago, as any goals allowed could prove costly.
Pumas have no margin of error and the match will be a tough balancing act. The squad managed by Guillermo Vásquez can’t afford to sit back and attack intermittently, but they definitely can't permit Chicago to score.