The last time the Chicago Fire played in the Home Depot Center was last week against Chivas USA. Coincidentally talks of Chivas USA leaving the stadium as a home surfaced and were kicked around over at The Goat Parade. Tonight's opponent is the Los Angeles Galaxy and the kick-off is at 9:30 PM CST. You can catch the game on Fox Soccer Channel or just go to The Globe Pub at 1934 W. Irving Park Road for the Section 8/Chicago Fire Watch Party.
Now that we have that out of the way, who will start for the Galaxy and which 'unit' of players will start for Fire? How Frank Klopas might play line-up card chicken with LA and New York the next couple of days is after the break.Friday's injury report did not look favorable for Los Angeles. David Beckham, A. J. DeLaGarza, Omar Gonzalez and Frankie Hejduk were already listed as questionable on Tuesday but they all stayed there while Sean Franklin and Chad Barrett joined them. Gonzalez, DeLaGarza, and Franklin represent 3/4s of the their starting back line so Chicago might be greeted by a patchwork defense tonight. LA's other defenders have not seen much time at all and the only regular would be Todd Dunivant who has played every minute of every MLS Regular Season game. LA has their own U.S. Open Cup game this Tuesday against the Seattle Sounders but if the response of LAG Confidential author Josie Becker is any indication, that probably won't affect their lineup selection. In the Galaxy's defense they are in the running for the Supporters' Shield and for the top seed in the MLS Cup Playoffs. In their prosecution, it's the U.S. Open Cup.
In speculating tonight's lineup for Chicago, it will be curious to see if Klopas sticks with the 'lines' or 'units' he has been using the past couple of games. Casual observers could tell you that Sean Johnson, Jalil Anibaba, Yamith Cuesta, Cory Gibbs and Gonzalo Segares are a lock in defense. Sam Stejskal recently highlighted the stellar partnership Cuesta and Gibbs have developed. The front six have never been the same combination under Klopas so it's a little harder to read. That said I think the preferred front line is last week's Patrick Nyarko, Baggio Husidic, Logan Pause, Marco Pappa, Dominic Oduro and Diego Chaves. Those starters leave the 'second line' core that played both the game against the Rochester Rhinos on 6/28 and the Reserves League game against FC Dallas on 7/5. If Klopas is feeling like he'll get a weakened LA defense, don't be surprised if the starting lineup includes Gabriel Ferrari, Daniel Paladini, Michael Videira, Corben Bone, Cristian Nazarit, and Orr Barouch. You can't argue with their results when the Rhinos and FC Dallas Reserves were dispatched to the combined tune of 6-0. At this point I feel like the Fire's Tuesday U.S. Open Cup game against the Red Bulls is more important so I wouldn't mind seeing 6 guys who are clicking together and hungry to break into the first line starting lineup taking the field with the starting back line listed above. A real gamble would be playing the back line of Bratislav Ristic, Dasan Robinson, Josip Mikulic, and Pari Pantazopoulos. That might be too much and I think Anibaba, Cuesta, Gibbs, and Segares can play two games in four games just fine.
The two caveats to the above is that the Galaxy were fined $5,000 in June for not reporting David Beckham on the MLS Injury Report. Placing so many players on the list might be a precaution (or a message to the league front office) in order to not get fined again. In Tuesday's game against New York, the Fire will likely face a tired and/or depleted Red Bull squad. Coach Hans Backe tends to only use one or two late subs in his games and the Red Bulls have been playing a lot of games lately. In addition he doesn't seem to care about the USOC very much as shown by the fact he only brought two non-goalies on the bench for their USOC match against F.C. New York. NYRB's lineup for tonight's game just came out and it's Sutton, Solli, Mendes, Ream, Miller, Richards, Ballouchy, McCarty, Lindpere, Rodgers, Henry. The only difference between the starting lineup for their game on Wednesday against Toronto is that Tainio started in Ballouchy's place. That doesn't amount to much of a move in anticipation for another game on Tuesday. Decisions, decisions, decisions for Frank Klopas as he turns his Chicago lineup card in a couple of hours. What would you do? Your thoughts on that, tonight's game and more below.
Prediction for tonight's game is a 3-2 score just like last year's game on August 1, 2010. Do I have any reasoning for that? None at all. No one thought the Fire would have gone up 3-0 on LA last year in the first 25 minutes of play. Strange things can and do happen. It would be weird for the Fire to score a lot of goals and win tonight so here's to having that happen.