The Chicago Fire return to Toyota Park to take on the San Jose Earthquakes after being on the road for two weeks playing games against Toronto FC, the Philadelphia Union, and the San Jose Earthquakes in the past two weeks. Some will list that the team went 1-1-1 on the road trip but technically Tuesday's game where the Fire outscored San Jose 5-4 on penalty kicks is recorded as a tie. Chicago merely advances to the U.S. Open Cup thanks to Tuesday's result.
Either way, Chicago will be looking for their first Major League Soccer Regular Season victory since March 26. The San Jose Earthquakes have turned things around going 2-0-1 in their last three MLS games and they will be looking for revenge on Tuesday's loss.
Thoughts on Chicago's Starting XI after the break.
The biggest question is who will start in goal for Chicago. Sean Johnson was back in net for the USOC game on Tuesday but he wasn't fantastic. The back line will most likely be Jalil Anibaba, Yamith Cuesta, Cory Gibbs, and Gonzalo Segares. Those four have had more playing time with Jon Conway. Carlos de los Cobos is riding a 1-4-5 record into this game so he might choose comfort over risk. I personally would like to see Sean Johnson start.
Up top, the players will depend on what formation CDLC goes with. The last four MLS games have featured a 4-1-4-1 but Tuesday's game had a 4-4-2. Cristian Nazarit and Gaston Puerari started up top but Nazarit would make a better substitute after going 120 minutes and not playing much. Diego Chaves did not play on Tuesday because of a right foot contusion but he is off the MLS Injury Report. I think the 4-4-2 was more to give Nazarit some time to get into playing form, expect the same 4-1-4-1 lineup the MLS games have had as of late. If Diego Chaves is healthy, he'll start.
In the midfield Marco Pappa and Dominic Oduro should start on the wings. Even though Pappa went 120 minutes on Tuesday, the Fire are losing Pappa to the Gold Cup after today and CDLC has not shown any hesitation to start Pappa on short rest before. Finally we'll see if Logan Pause starts at DM. Since he is the captain, I would bet on it. That leaves the two central midfield positions. Corben Bone has started all of the last four MLS games and Gaston Puerari has started three and appeared in four. Puerari was subbed off in the 46th minute of Tuesday's game so he should be fresh. I would point out that Puerari has not played a full 90 minutes the April 9th game against Seattle. Daniel Paladini played well in his four starts while Logan Pause was injured. Paladini has more experience as an attacking midfielder. I would not be surprised and would rather favor Daniel Paladini starting in the place of Gaston Puerari as the other central midfielder. I'll have more on this later in the week but Puerari seems to be suited better as a supersub.
Orr Barouch started on Tuesday and he has an outside chance to start tonight especially if CDLC goes with a 4-4-2. Good news from the MLS Injury report is that Patrick Nyarko has been upgraded from OUT to DOUBTFUL. Minor? Sure. Positive? Yes. Get well soon Patrick.
San Jose has been good as of late but the Fire are coming home off an epic penalty kick battle on Tuesday. My record in predicting Fire wins has been terrible so I'll say San Jose 2 - Chicago 1 just to twist the odds a little bit. We'll have updates on Starting XIs and let's hear some in-game commentary below.