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Match Storylines pres. by NovaCare: Fire, Rapids kickoff Saturday doubleheader

Unbeaten in three straight matches, the Chicago Fire are back in action looking to extend that streak this Saturday afternoon when they take on the Colorado Rapids.

Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. CT, with coverage on ESPN+ and Univision Radio WRTO 1200 AM. Get set for Saturday with this week’s Match Storylines powered by NovaCare:

Form Guide

The Rapids (0-5-2, two points) hit the road to SeatGeek Stadium still in search of their first win of 2019. Last week at home against D.C. United, Colorado took an early lead through veteran MLS midfielder Benny Feilhaber, but were overcome by the visitors after 90 in a 3-2 defeat. They currently sit in 11th place in the Western Conference after seven matches played.

Chicago (1-2-3, six points) will look to continue their current unbeaten run with a full three points on Saturday afternoon, having picked up a win and a pair of draws in their last three outings. Nemanja Nikolić helped secure a point at home last weekend against the Vancouver Whitecaps with a late penalty kick finish that evened the scoreline in a 1-1 draw.

Difference-Makers in Denver

An influx of proven MLS talent made its way to the Centennial State during the 2019 offseason, and has since revamped head coach Anthony Hudson’s matchday roster. Among the new faces are 2016 MLS Rookie of the Year finalist Keegan Rosenberry (via the Philadelphia Union), former U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder Benny Feilhaber (via LAFC), current USMNT pool midfielder Kelyn Rowe (formerly of the New England Revolution), and forwards Diego Rubio (from Sporting Kansas City) and Kei Kamara (most recently of the Vancouver Whitecaps).

Goal-Getters

Kamara has hit the ground running since his move from Vancouver, and currently leads his new side in goals scored (4). After netting a ninth-minute goal on April 6 against Orlando City SC, the 13-year MLS veteran passed Ring of Fire member Ante Razov to claim fifth place on the league’s all-time scoring charts with 115 to his name. He’s since scored goal No. 116, a 66th minute finish in his side’s 3-2 defeat against DC last weekend. It was Kamara’s third-straight match with a goal.

Lining up across from Kamara at kickoff will be Fire forward Nemanja Nikolić, who is in the midst of a goal-scoring streak of his own. Nikolić created the own goal that led to a win against the New York Red Bulls on March 30, and has scored in each of the Fire’s past two matches.

Saluting a Legend

Rapids goalkeeper and U.S. Men’s National Team legend Tim Howard will make his final appearance against the Fire on Saturday afternoon. The 39-year-old announced in January that this season would be his last as a professional. Howard began his MLS career with the New York MetroStars in 1998 before making the leap to the English Premier League, where he’d spend four seasons with Manchester United and an additional nine with Everton. He’s appeared 82 times since returning to MLS to play in Colorado in 2016. On the international level, Howard featured for the United States 121 times, winning a pair of Gold Cups (2007, 2017) and was selected to three World Cup rosters (2006, 2010, 2014).

Howard has not had much success against the Fire during his two stints in MLS, holding a 1-9-1 record (W-L-D) with one shutout in 11 career games against the Men In Red.

Around SeatGeek Stadium

Saturday’s match is the first of two afternoon kickoffs at SeatGeek Stadium, as the Chicago Red Stars will make their 2019 home debut against Portland Thorns FC at 2:30 p.m. CT. The 2019 doubleheader marks the fourth year the Fire and Red Stars have held back-to-back matches at SeatGeek Stadium. All tickets purchased for the Fire's home match against the Rapids will also include a general admission ticket for the Red Stars game against Thorns FC. Tickets for the doubleheader are currently available for online purchase by clicking here

In addition, fans will notice the Men In Red in navy blue when they take the field on Saturday. Both the Fire and the Rapids will debut their special 2019 adidas Parley kits, which are made from technical yarns comprised of Parley Ocean Plastic. for the third consecutive year, all 24 MLS clubs will be wearing special adidas x Parley eco-friendly kits during Earth Day weekend.

Fans are invited to bid on the match-worn jerseys here, with each jersey to be autographed by the corresponding player. The jersey auction will end at the conclusion of halftime of the Fire match on Saturday, (approximately 12:45 p.m. central time), with all proceeds benefitting the Chicago Fire Foundation to support the award winning P.L.A.Y.S. Program.

#CHIvCOL All-Time

Saturday’s game will mark the 44th meeting between the Fire and the Rapids since the 1998 campaign. During that stretch, the Fire have posted a 19-14-10 record against Colorado, including a 16-4-2 mark at home. The last meeting between both sides at SeatGeek Stadium occurred on May 17, 2017, with the Fire posting a 3-0 victory over the Rapids.

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