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Chicago Fire vs. Vancouver Whitecaps - MLS #18 - Fireside Chat With Eighty Six Forever

After a tough home loss to Sporting KC, the Fire travel to Vancouver for another difficult match Sunday evening

David Banks

Chicago will need to play well indeed to bring home 3 points. This match should be a fun one, but it's certainly going to be a fight. To get the scoop, I compared notes with Jon Szekeres over at Eighty Six Forever. Our match preview will be up tomorrow courtesy of Adam, with the gamethread to follow on Sunday. Enjoy!

Hot Time In Old Town Asks Eighty Six Forever

1. Do Whitecaps fans feel like visitors inside BC Lions stadium, or has BC Place truly become home? Is there any desire for a soccer specific stadium for the Whitecaps? (via John Jenzah)

The Whitecaps did have Empire Field as a temporary replacement as BC Place was undergoing renovations, and it truly was an awesome place to be, considering it wasn't going to be permanent. BC Place has it's issues, most notably the turf, but its definitely home for the 'Caps. With two major sporting venues (BC Place, Rogers Arena) already in Vancouver, and considering how much cash went into renovating BC Place, I highly doubt you'll see anything built specifically for the Whitecaps.

2. Does the fanbase feel like the 3rd wheel when it comes to the Cascadia teams? (via Adam Merges)

I think so, mostly because we haven't been able to win many matches between our rivals. However, that's certainly changing, as the 'Caps have drawn with the Timbers this season, beaten the Sounders once, and would've beaten them twice if Andy O'Brien hadn't gotten injured. So, as the 'Caps march on in their MLS existence, they just need to keep producing results, and win a few Cascadia Cups, before they can truly feel like they're part of the pack.

3. What has Martin Rennie brought to the team this year that has seemingly led to a 180 from last season? (via Adam Merges)

He's not juggling his roster as much. Rennie is known to try different combinations almost match to match, however he's found something special in the attacking trio of Camilo, Kenny Miller and Russell Teibert. Teibert is away on Gold Cup duty now, but the three were scoring at will; Camillo has 10 goals, and Kenny Miller has 6 goals in just 9 started matches. Then there's Teibert, who has two goals on the season, but is among the league leaders in assists. Rennie gave these guys an opportunity to build some chemistry, and it's worked.

4. Vancouver sits in the 5th and final playoff spot. Do you see a run up the standings in the 2nd half of the season? How do you see the transfer window shaking out for the Whitecaps? (via Ryan Sealock)

Well the 'Caps have been on a run up the standings for a while now; four wins and a draw in their last five matches have pushed them into the playoff picture, when it looked like this club was dead in the water. Can they keep it going? There's still plenty of action left this season, and the 'Caps play their conference rivals more than enough in the final few months. That means the Whitecaps control their own destiny, and given the way they've been playing lately, I would have to assume they can keep going.

Predicted lineup: Knighton, Lee, Rusin, Leveron, Harvey, Davidson, Koffie, Reo-Coker, Hertzog, Miller, Camilo

Predicted score: 'Caps keep the good times going with a 2-1 victory

Eighty Six Forever Asks Hot Time In Old Town

1. Mike Magee currently is tied for the league lead in goals with 11. How has he been so successful this season?

I think we all know that Magee is quite the dynamic player. He wasn't at the forefront of a star studded LA team, at least publicity wise. Since coming back home to Chicago, he is showing everyone just how good he is. He can do it all. We know he can score, but he is good with the ball at his feet, takes deft touches, and has a great soccer vision on the pitch. This was evidenced by his sweet assist to set up a Chris Rolfe goal in the recent win against San Jose.

The other vital component of Magee returning to Chicago has been his evident love of playing for his hometown club, as well as his remarkable leadership skills. These things may be just as important to the Fire as the goals he is pouring in, even if they don't show up on any stat sheet. He has helped make the team around him better, with Dilly Duka and Chris Rolfe seeming to benefit the most of late from Magee's magical style.

2. According to the team website, ex-Columbus Crew defender Shaun Francis will be making his season debut for the Fire. Is he a weak link on the backline, or do you expect good things from him?

It's a pure depth move at this point. Right now our whole backline is shaky and could be considered a weak link. Austin Berry is having a sophomore slump, Baky Soumare is still adjusting to the team again, and Jalil Anibaba has had his issues this year. Gonzalo Segares has been the mainstay on the backline for us, but he will miss the match due to yellow card accumulation.

Young Hunter Jumper is normally listed as Sega's backup at LB, but for some reason Frank Klopas must not think he is ready to be slotted into a starting role. Thus the arrival of Francis. Honestly, I am not expecting anything big from Francis. If he can do a serviceable job at LB, this will be enough for me.

3. The Fire currently sit outside the playoff bubble, but are only five points back of a spot. Can this club make the playoffs, or is this season a write-off?

At this point, we definitely can make the playoffs. Had you asked me before Magee's arrival, my aswer would have been the same as most Fire fans. And that answer would be that the season was a write-off, but the team should focus on USOC play. With the Fire advancing to the the Semifinals of the USOC and looking good doing it, that has boosted confidence for a playoff appearance.

As long as Magee and the rest of the midfield keep up their good form, I like our chances. Fans are also hopeful of a quality addition or two in the transfer window. The Fire are certainly in the market. The question will be how much our notoriously frugal Front Office will decide to spend.

4. It doesn't look like the club has much consistent offense outside of Magee. Is that a fair statement?

That is definitely a fair statement, and the one thing that worries me. A team that hopes to go far can't realistically rely on one player for 2/3 of the season. He needs help. Before his arrival, no one was stepping up scoring-wise, and to say the offense was sputtering would be generous. That's why it's imperative the club finds a quality scorer to bring in during the window to help Magee.

Predicted lineup: Tornaghi, Anibaba, Soumare, Berry, Francis, Larentowicz, Duka, Alex, Nyarko, Rolfe, Magee

Predicted score: I am gonna say 1-1. The Fire are coming off a tough home loss to Sporting KC. After the game, MIke Magee was critical of the team's effort, especially in the 2nd half (and rightly so). Hopefully this will light a Fire under everyone on Sunday. Vancouver are a good team, and tough at home. I think the Fire can come away with a point however. I will say none other than Magee will net for the Fire.