Chicago Fire vs. DC United -MLS #12- Preview

Tasos Katopodis

Sunday afternoon the Fire welcome the league's last place team to Toyota Park. Can Chicago keep the momentum going in the right direction following 2 positive results? This fan thinks so

The Fire are coming off a hard earned point from their match last week versus Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto. Their lineup was given a boost with the newly acquired Bakary Soumare. This allowed Frank Klopas to field a very strong defensive unit by sliding Anibaba out to the right side and sliding Soumare into the center with Berry. For the majority of the game the Fire's defense looked stable, except for a few scary moments throughout the match. Yes, they did give up shots but that's why Sean Johnson is the starter for this team and is also in USMNT talk.

The Fire were also saved by the crossbar before RSL were able to beat the defense and Sean Johnson with a goal by Alvaro Saborio in the 78th minute. On the other side of the ball, it was the same old story for the offense for most of the game. They were able to create a few chances throughout the match until Quincy Amarikwa was able to slot his acrobatic shot home after a header from Austin Berry. Jalil Anibaba started the play with a long throw in to Berry's head.

With the comeback tie in Salt Lake, the Fire can also add some positive momentum from the win versus the Charlotte Eagles in Open Cup play on Wednesday. That game also marked the debut of another recently acquired player, Mike Magee. He was acquired for the rights to Robbie Rogers and he made an immediate impact by scoring the first goal of the game in the 11th minute. Fielding a side with first choice players, the Fire were able to control the match and get a second from the left foot of Chris Rolfe.It was a nice boost for the team as the Fire hadn't won a match since the Columbus game back in April.

This Sunday, the Fire host last place DC United in an afternoon affair at Toyota Park. Not only is DC last place in the Eastern Conference, but they are also last place in all of MLS. With a 1-9-2 record, Ben Olsen and his DC United players are playing well below their expectations. Olsen has tried different lineups and formations but nothing seems to be working for them. Unlike the Fire, DC is coming off a 2-0 loss to Portland in league play and an Open Cup victory that took extra time as well as penalty kicks to decide. If DC continues in this slump I expect big changes to happen to try to turn their fortunes around.

Lineups

Since Ben Olsen has chosen to use the same lineup in consecutive weeks, here is my best guess at what he might go with (Hamid is still with the USMNT):

Willis

Korb-Macdonald-White-Riley

Augusto-Kitchen-Deleon-Porter

De Rosario-Pontius

After watching the Open Cup game on Wednesday Night, I'm very intrigued by the lineup that Frank Klopas chose to start the game. Yes, it was a lower division opponent but the lineup had strong play throughout the match. I would love to see Frank choose the same lineup as Wednesday. So I would guess Frank might go with this:

Tornaghi

Anibaba-Soumare-Berry-Segares

Pause

Duka-Alex-Nyarko

Magee-Rolfe

Key Matchups

  • Berry and Soumare vs. De Rosario- Last year he was DC's go to guy and was the heart of the team. This year he has looked a shell of himself so far. That doesn't mean that De Rosario won't change his confidence level around Sunday. It's best that Berry and Soumare shut him down so he doesn't have a chance to have things go his way and provide a positive spark to DC. He is still able to provide the creative ability that DC needs and we need to be wary of this.
  • Willis vs. every shot at his goal- The third year keeper has only had 15 appearances to his resume and has given up 25 goals during that time. The Fire should pepper the goal with shots early and often to make him feel uncomfortable. If a Fire forward/midfielder has the opportunity to shoot within 25 yards, I'd say go for it. Keep the pressure on the inexperienced keeper and force him not to make a mistake.

Wildcards

With DC owning the worst record in the league, I'm sure they are waiting for that one player to come out and take charge of the team. That player for me is Chris Pontius. He has yet to grab a goal this season but he showed last year that he can be a double digit scorer in MLS. So far he has only assisted on 2 goals this season. I'm sure he is looking to get off the mark and when he does he will score in bunches. If he does not start for DC on Sunday look for him to come off the bench in order to provide a spark for DC.

For the Fire it's kind of a no brainer, Mike Magee. The newly acquired Magee will be looking to put a stamp on his return to Chicago. After the way that he and Chris Rolfe were able to combine on Wednesday night, albeit against the Charlotte Eagles, there should be no reason why Frank does not start the both of them up top versus DC. If he is able to make an immediate impact for the Fire I can just see a lot of bench in the future for Sherjill MacDonald. Magee will hopefully provide a boost for the Fire that will be the shot in the arm that this team desperately needs.

Outcome

The MLS' 2 worst teams when it comes to goal scoring clash on Sunday. We have made a couple moves and DC is still the same team that has a 1-9-2 record. Something has to give at Toyota Park. With the way that DC has played all season I'm going to say that the Fire will be the better team on Sunday and match their top goal scoring output for the season. I predict a 3-0 win for the Men in Red with goals coming from Rolfe, Magee, and Alex.

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