The Chicago Fire's 2011 MLS Regular Season has essentially become an exercise in preparing for the 2011 U.S. Open Cup and the 2012 MLS Regular Season. Last week's 4-2 loss to the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps was no doubt the worst moment in the Fire's 2011 campaign and it might have been the worst moment in the club's entire history as Stephen Piggott opined in last week's game recap.
The opponent for tonight's game is the New York Red Bulls who have a ton of talent on paper and the salary investment to back it up. Their results are less than desirable in spite of it all. Since the beginning of May, the Red Bulls are 2-5-10 and they haven't won any of their last five games. The Fire present a ripe opportunity for New York to get some swagger back in their stance. The Red Bulls need it too because in Points Per Match standings, the club is out of the playoffs. The failure of mid-season trades like Dwayne De Rosario (trading for and then shipping out) and switching between goalies Bouna Coundoul, Greg Sutton, and the mid-season signed Frank Rost, along with other major roster tweaks support the numbers favoring consistency in MLS Roster construction presented in yesterday's article.
Dominic Ouro and Cristian Nazarit share a birthday today so I wouldn't be surprised to see either player score a goal. Across sports, it has been proven that players play better on their birthdays. If the Fire suffer another loss or a seemingly inevitable tie, try to observe the game from a standpoint of how it helps our chances in the U.S. Open Cup and the overall future. With that in mind, I'm predicting another Chicago Fire 1 - New York Red Bulls 1 draw like when the teams battled it out on Sunday, June 26 at Toyota Park. Your and our thoughts on the game after the break.