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Game Preview: Chicago Fire @ FC Dallas

BRIDEVIEW, IL - MAY 27: Logan Pause #12 of the Chicago Fire is defended by Dax McCarty #13 of FC Dallas in an MLS match on May 27, 2010 at Toyota Park in Brideview, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
BRIDEVIEW, IL - MAY 27: Logan Pause #12 of the Chicago Fire is defended by Dax McCarty #13 of FC Dallas in an MLS match on May 27, 2010 at Toyota Park in Brideview, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
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To say that FC Dallas has been 'good' this year would be an understatement.  They haven't lost a game since May 20th when they played the Los Angeles Galaxy and their only other loss was on April 17 to the New York Red Bulls.  The good news is that they tie, like a lot.  No one else has their draws in double digits while FC Dallas is carrying 13 of them.  The bad news is that the Fire need to win every game they have left.  We have a 1% chance of making the playoffs... yes, I'm saying there is a chance... and it ain't over 'til it's over.  More thoughts on the possible lineup and FC Dallas after the jump.

In terms of the Fire Starting XI for the match, Wednesday's lineup of Johnson, Kinney, Watson-Siriboe, Robinson, Krol, Ristic, Pause, Thorrington, Pappa, Ljungberg, and Carr worked out very well.  Carlos de los Cobos played the exact same lineup against Houston on August 21 after the Fire defeated New England on August 18 so you have to think he might do that here.  I for one hope he doesn't.  I think we lost to Houston because the same lineup was playing on 3 days rest and it was over 100 degrees on field.  The forecast for tonight's game is much cooler but still Carlos, this is club play, not international play.  I know the FIFA calendar occasionally schedules two games in less than a week but country is different.  I hope he has learned.

As Guillermo Rivera reports, CDLC might have his hands tied anyway.  John Thorrington is out as are Gonzalo Segares, Mike Banner, and Baggio HusidicNery Castillo did travel with the team this time but he is listed as questionable.  I think Ljungberg and Carr work really well up top and while they might be a little fatigued, I say roll with what we've got.  Carr didn't score a goal but Ljungberg had a MLS Player of the Week game with him around.   I like what we saw from Watson-Siriboe and Robinson, but I expect Brown to start after getting a well deserved rest on Wednesday.  Conde could be benched in favor of one of those two.  He has been just too uneven this year.  Krol will start at LB with Sega being out.  Besides Sean Johnson at GK, can anyone else pin a position down?

If Dasan Robinson doesn't get the start in the middle, he might start over Kinney at RB... or will Nyarko start at RM shifting Ristic back to RB?  You would expect Logan Pause to start at his usual DM position but as Rivera points out, many are calling for Ristic to see some time at DM and Kinney looked great at RB on Wednesday.  There is so much startable talent on this team, it is very frustrating that the playoffs are basically out of the picture.  I'm going to guess a 4-1-3-2 lineup of Johnson; Kinney, Brown, Conde, Krol; Pause; Nyarko, Ristic, Pappa; Ljungberg, Carr.  The bench will be Dykstra, Watson-Siriboe, Lowry, John, McBride, Robinson, Castillo.  

Even if the Fire are eliminated from the playoffs today, their inspiration for 2011 should come from the team on the other side of the pitch.  In 2009, FC Dallas was looking like they were dead in the water with 8 games left in the season.  22 games and Dallas had only 23 points to show for it.  Then something interesting happened, they went on a 5-1-1 tear before the last game of the season against the Seattle Sounders.  Win in Seattle and advance to the playoffs.  Tie and pray for other things to happen.  Lose and go home.  The FC Dallas fan's heart was broken when the Sounders Brad Evans scored for Seattle in the 84th minute.  FC Dallas missed the playoffs last year by one single point.  Combine the last 8 games of the 2009 with this season though and FC Dallas is an incredible 16-4-14.  With the talent this Fire team has, that is not something out of reach going forward.  They just have to come together as a team. 

Take the pitch today Fire, play together, let's get our own 16-4-14 run going.