Chicago Fire vs. Vancouver Whitecaps - MLS #8: Game Preview

Now that's a photo-op

The Chicago Fire and the Vancouver Whitecaps look to be brothers of different mothers.  Both teams have six points on the season.  Both teams are in 8th place in their conference.  Both teams have goal differentials of -3 but no problem scoring goals of their own.  Both teams have been plagued by injuries.  Both teams only win has come at the expense of bottom dwellers in the Eastern Conference.  Is this game a 50% coin flip then?  I certainly hope not.  More after the break.

With the signing of Cristian Nazarit and the latest Injury Report from the Fire, here is the roster Carlos de los Cobos has to pick from tonight:

Forwards:

Orr Barouch, Diego Chaves, Gabriel Ferrari (L hamstring strain), Cristian Nazarit, Dominic Oduro, Gaston Puerari

Midfielders:

Mike Banner (L Achilles tendinitis), Corben Bone, Baggio Husidic, Marko Maric (L deltoid sprain/contusion), Patrick Nyarko (illness), Daniel Paladini, Marco Pappa, Davis Paul, Logan Pause (R hamstring strain), Victor Pineda, Bratislav Ristic, Mike Videira (concussion)

Defense:

Jalil Anibaba, Yamith Cuesta, Cory Gibbs (L hamstring strain), Steven Kinney (R Achilles repair), Josip Mikulic (L clavicle contusion), Pari Pantazopoulos, Dasan Robinson, Gonzalo Segares, Kwame Watson-Siriboe

Goaltenders:

Jon Conway, Alec Dufty, Sean Johnson

Mikulic, Gibbs and Nyarko are all listed as questionable.  Everyone else with the (next to their name) will be out.  If Ferrari's hamstring improves by game time or something happens to one of the defenders, CDLC will have as many available forwards as defenders.  Despite this, de los Cobos said he plans on using the solo forward 4-1-4-1 formation the team used against Colorado last week.  Forwards might be deployed elsewhere as CDLC seemed to indicate Purerari will start in midfield again.  I wouldn't be surprised to see Oduro start at RM again after Nyarko sat out training on Friday with an illness.  de los Cobos had nothing negative to say about the Corben Bone and Daniel Paladini midfield pairing so it looks like they will get the nod.  My best guess for the lineup:

Starting XI: Conway; Anibaba, Robinson, Cuesta, Segares; Paladini; Oduro, Bone, Puerari, Pappa; Chaves

Bench: Johnson, Watson-Siriboe, Husidic, Paul, Ristic, Barouch, Nazarit

Non-uniformed: Dufty, Pineda, Pantazopoulos

Gibbs, Mikulic, and Nyarko could make the bench to knock Watson-Siriboe, Ristic, and Paul to the non-uniformed.

Vancouver's Starting XI will most likely be Jay Nolly; Jonathan Leathers, Greg Janicki, Mouloud Akloul, Alain Rochat; Davide Chiumiento, Gershon Koffie, Terry Dunfield, Russell Teibert; Omar Salgado, Eric Hassli

Hassli will be the number one player to watch tonight.  He was the Vancouver Whitecaps first designated player and came from FC Zurich in Switzerland's First Division where he scored 27 goals in 84 games.  Hassil has shown great success in MLS scoring 3 goals in 5 games.  His strike partner Salgado was selected 1st overall in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft.  Salgado scored his first MLS goal last week in a 2-1 loss to the Columbus Crew.  Both Hassil and Salgado are 6'4 so expect the Whitecaps to push for corner kicks and crosses while being very dangerous on all set pieces.

That said, the Chicago Fire should win this game.  Benjamin Massey of Eighty Six Forever highlighted the fact the Vancouver Whitecaps are using a lot of players from last year's USSF D2 team.  MLS veterans Atiba Harris and John Thorrington will both be out.  USMNT member and Whitecaps captain Jay DeMerit also will not be taking the field due to injury.  The Whitecaps have yet to win on the road and their opponents have not been all that stellar either.  Here's to hoping the Fire can attack successfully and we might even get a look at the new guy, Nazarit.  I predict a wild game where the Fire still have problems in defense but use their MLS veteran edge and home field advantage to come out winning 3-2.

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