Chicago enters Friday night's match with 2 victories over Kansas City earlier in the season. The first game was a 2-1 win at Toyota Park on May 12 and the second was a 1-0 victory on June 29 at Kansas City. The Fire have made a couple of significant mid-season transactions while KC by and large stayed firm. However, Friday's night lineups both have some new looks for head coaches Frank Klopas and Peter Vermes to navigate.
September 28 Lineups
Fire: Johnson; Anibaba, Friedrich, Berry, Segares; Fernandez, Pause, Alex, Nyarko; Rolfe, MacDonald
KC: Nielsen, Myers, Olum, Besler, Sinovic, Nagamura, Cesar, Espinoza, Kamara, Sapong, Zusi
June 29 Lineups
Fire: Johnson; Anibaba, Friedrich, Berry, Gargan; Pause, Pardo; Nyarko, Rolfe, Pappa; Oduro
KC: Nielsen; Myers, Collin, Olum, Sinovic; Cesar, Zusi, Espinoza; Kamara, Bunbury, Sapong
May 12 Lineups
Fire: Johnson; Anibaba, Friedrich, Berry, Segares; Pause, Pardo, Pappa; Grazzini; Nyarko, Oduro
KC: Nielsen; Myers, Collin, Besler, Harrington; Cesar, Zusi, Espinoza, Convey; Sapong, Kamara
The constants for KC are Jimmy Nielsen, Chance Myers, Seth Sinovic, Julio Cesar, Roger Espinoza, Kei Kamara, CJ Sapong and Graham Zusi. Matt Besler did not start in the game in June but did come in as an early sub in the 18th minute of play to replace Lawrence Olum. Aurelien Collin somewhat surprisingly starts on the bench for KC tonight despite being in the top 5 in minutes played. While Collin, Besler and Olum have all featured, Besler and Olum will be the center back pair for the first time in the season series tonight. Collin has been in and out of the lineup since July 21st. Paulo Nagamura in the starting XI is another surprise. The 29 year-old Brazlian midfielder is listed on the injury report filed with MLS' front office today as being questionable with a foot contusion. He has not started against the Fire yet.
KC's subs are as follows: Kronberg, Collin, Harrington, Rosell, Joseph, Saad, Dwyer
The constants for Chicago are Sean Johnson, Jalil Anibaba, Arne Friedrich, Austin Berry, Logan Pause, and Patrick Nyarko. The fact that only 6 of the 11 players starting for the Fire tonight also started on May 12 and June 29 is a credit to the alternations Fire head coach Klopas made throughout the season. Gonzalo Segares was suspended for the June 29 matchup so his reinsertion into the lineup is not surprising. Chris Rolfe played and scored the lone goal in the June 29 game. Had Rolfe been healthy, he would have started on May 12.
The big adjustments for the Fire are Alvaro Fernandez essentially replacing Marco Pappa, Alex replacing Pavel Pardo, and Sherjill MacDonald replacing Dominic Oduro. From an analytical perspective, Fernandez for Pappa is a bit of a wash. Alex in the place of the injured Pavel Pardo is a move Klopas would not likely make if Pardo were healthy. The 23 year-old Brazilian's contributions to the game will be crucial. MacDonald is a big body that Oduro is not. Against Kansas City, MacDonald is a much better matchup. If anything is lost by the loss of Pardo, the Fire hope it can be gained in MacDonald drawing another a big defender and opening up space for Austin Berry and Arne Friedrich on set pieces. Look for MacDonald to continue to hold up the ball as he has since his arrival.
Chicago's subs are as follows: Tornaghi, Gargan, Thompson, Paladini, Bone, Oduro, Franco