The 2019 edition of the Brimstone Cup rivalry is set to take place Saturday afternoon, when FC Dallas visits SeatGeek Stadium for a nationally-televised contest against the Chicago Fire. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. CT with coverage coming to you on Univision and Univision Radio WRTO AM 1200.
As the Fire look to claim three points and reclaim the annually-awarded hardware from their Western Conference counterparts, get set for Saturday night’s showdown with this week’s Match Storylines, presented by NovaCare:
FC Dallas (12-10-7, 43 points) heads to Chicago unbeaten in three-straight and riding a pair of lop-sided victories. After dispatching the Houston Dynamo 5-1 on Aug. 25, head coach Luchi Gonzalez’s men were 3-1 victors over FC Cincinnati in the two sides’ first-ever meeting on Aug. 31. Dallas shot out to a 3-0 lead via goals from Ryan Hollingshead, Michael Barrios, and Zdenek Ondrasek before Cincinnati’s Emmanuel Ledesma pulled one back from the penalty spot. FC Dallas currently sit in seventh place in the Western Conference, where just four points separate second place from eighth entering the weekend.
The Fire took a point off Columbus Crew SC last time out, as midfielder Przemysław Frankowski delivered a stoppage time equalizer to give the Fire a result on the road on Aug. 31. With four games remaining in the regular season, the Fire will look for a key three points on Saturday night at home, where they’ve lost just twice this season (7-2-6) in 15 MLS regular season matches played to date.
A trio of Fire regulars are set to return home from the latest FIFA international break ahead of Saturday’s meeting with Dallas. Last weekend, defender Francisco Calvo was among Costa Rica’s matchday squad in a 2-1 friendly defeat against Uruguay last Friday, while Aleksandar Katai featured for his native Serbia in both of their UEFA EURO 2020 qualifiers. Katai appeared as a second-half substitute in a 4-2 defeat against Portugal on Saturday, before starting in a 3-1 win over Luxembourg on Tuesday.
Homegrown midfielder Djordje Mihailović captained the Under-23 U.S. Men’s National Team in a 2-0 victory against the Japan U-23s on Monday night as part of a training camp at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.
FC Dallas saw nine players depart for the international window. Joining Mihailović in camp with the U.S. U-23s were midfielders Edwin Cerrillo and Brandon Servania, and forward Jesus Ferreira. Goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez, defender Reggie Cannon, and midfielder Paxton Pomykal were with the full U.S. MNT for matches against Mexico and Uruguay. Homegrown signings Thomas Roberts (U.S. U-20s) and Ricardo Pepi (U.S. U-17s) were also called into their respective U.S. youth setups, while midfielder Bryan Acosta returns from a pair of matches with Honduras.
No Place Like It
Saturday night’s match marks nearly a month since the Fire last suited up at SeatGeek Stadium. The Fire were 2-0 winners against the Philadelphia Union on Aug. 14 in their last home outing, courtesy of a first half brace from Nemanja Nikolić. Saturday’s visit from FC Dallas is the Fire’s penultimate home match of the regular season, as they’ll close their 2019 home calendar on Sunday, Sept. 29 with a 4 p.m CT kickoff against Toronto FC (ESPN+).
A big reason for Dallas’ current three-match unbeaten run is the sudden scoring form of forward Zdenek Ondrasek. The Czech Republic native has scored all four of his 2019 goals and picked up both of his 2019 assists in Dallas’ last three games. On the season, they’re led by the aforementioned Ferreira (seven goals) in the scoring department, while Barrios (13 assists) has orchestrated from midfield.
Nikolić (11) remains the Fire’s team-leader in goals - followed closely by CJ Sapong (10) - while midfielder Nicolás Gaitán leads in the assists category, with 10 helpers to go along with four goals in his first season in MLS.
Saturday’s match will mark the first and only meeting between Chicago and FC Dallas this season. Dallas reclaimed the Brimstone Cup last season – awarded annually since 2001 to the winner of this matchup – with a 3-0 victory over the Men In Red at Toyota Stadium in 2018, returning the favor from a 2-1 Fire victory at home in 2017. Nikolić and midfielder David Accam were goal-scorers on the day, helping the Fire claim the cup for the fifth time since 2012.
All-time, the Fire are 16-22-4 against Dallas dating back to 1998, and 4-5-1 in matches played at SeatGeek Stadium. FC Dallas is winless in its last three away matches, with the club’s last road win coming on July 20 in a 2-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City.