Saturday night will mark the last game of 3 in 6 days as the Fire and the rest of the league head off on break while soccer fans turn their attention towards Brazil for the 2014 installment of the World Cup. But before that happens the Fire must take on the league's best team at the moment, the Seattle Sounders. Will the men in red be able to head the break on a positive note or will it be another less than stellar performance which will fester with Yallop and company until the end of the break?
Last week in Seattle, the top two teams in the Western conference met in as what was billed as a must watch match turned into a lop sided affair. Both teams were missing key players due to international call ups but the Sounders were able to keep their offensive machine moving along. They ended up beating Real Salt Lake 4-0 with goals from Chad Barrett, Marco Pappa, Gonzalo Pineda, and the Nigerian DP Obafemi Martins. Check out the highlights below.
Wednesday saw the Fire travel to Colorado to take on the Rapids in the middle game of the 3 this week. As evident by the starting lineups of both teams which was very reserve heavy on both sides, that the coaches were going into this game more focused for the weekend than that night. Chicago only had one real chance when Juan Luis Anangono popped a header just inches wide past an on rushing John Berner. Despite that both teams were just awful on the night and the Fire showed this by having no shots on target, giving up 66% of the possession, and only completing 56% of their passes. If it wasn't for a few key saves from Sean Johnson the scoreline could have been very different. If you want to see the highlights check them out below.
In order for the Fire to keep all 3 points in Chicago they will have to stop the league's most offensive team. Instead of focusing on one player they will have to focus on 5 players. Martins, Pappa, Naegle, Pineda, and the combo of Cooper/Barrett. So far in 14 games they have already scored 29 games and this could be a problem for the Fire defense which is coming off their first shutout of the season. Since the Sounders did not have a midweek game they will definitely have fresher legs than the Fire whose key defensive players, Larentowicz, Soumare, and Hurtado, look set to see their 3rd 90 minutes of game time in 6 days. That is going to be the biggest thing for the Fire to do in order to stay in the game. The defense has to cope with the best offense in the league.
Even though Seattle's defense has been leaky this year, giving up one goal less than the Fire, the Fire are not going to want to squander any chances that may fall to them. Quincy Amarikwa, with the rest he had on Wednesday, has to show up and be a threat in the offensive end. Seattle's defense isn't quick by any means so Quincy should be able to run in behind them to latch onto through balls. It will be important for Harrison Shipp to find room in order to make those passes. If the Fire cannot win any of the midfield battles I can see this match turn into a long ball affair from the men in red.
Final prediction? I have to say Seattle 3-0. I really hope the Fire are able to slow down the Sounder's attack but I just can't see it happening. There will be tired legs in important positions and with e rest that the Sounders were able to have in between games will prove to be too much.