When: Saturday August 30th at 7:30PM CST
Where: Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Illinois
Where to Watch: Toyota Park Stands, My50 Chicago, TWCSC Wisconsin
Hey, What Happened?
If last week's game versus TFC was at the beginning of the season it would have been considered a moral victory and well earned point on the road for Yallop and company. Sitting outside of the playoff positions and with the season quickly coming to a close the 2-2 tie for the men in red may not be enough in the end in order to make the playoffs. Granted the Fire came back twice to tie with newcomer Robert Earnshaw and Quincy Amarikwa getting on the score sheet. Yet again the defense was the culprit when Soumare, within the first 5 minutes, tried to clear a cross but looked like he couldn't make up his mind on how to clear the cross and this indecision led to the ball being deflected past Johnson. In the second half Earnshaw was able to get his head on a cross by Grant Ward. Less than 10 minutes later Toronto were able to break on a broken down Fire when Luke Moore sprung TFC DP Gilberto 1 on 1 with Johnson. Gilberto was able to round the milkman and slot the ball in the back of the net. All hope seemed lost until a cross from Lovel Palmer in the 90th minute went through everybody in the middle of the box and found the foot of Amarikwa who tied up the game. Moral victory perhaps but still 3 points was definitely needed.
Hey, What's Happening?
This week is all about the Brimstone Cup. Since following the team since the beginning, this is a rivalry that I personally still look forward to even though the Fire and FC Dallas(still the Burn to me) play only once a year in league play. I always looked forward to shouting at players like Ariel Graziani, Ronnie O'Brien, Richard Farrer, and of course the little fish Carlos Ruiz. This Cup rivalry still means a lot to myself and many of other cf97 fans as it is a part of our history and tradition. Did I mention that this year's addition has become a must must must win for Yallop and company? The playoff dream has been fading away but there is still a glimmer of hope for the Fire as long as they are able to get all 3 points and a piece of silverware Saturday night.
Hey, What Should Happen?
How does this team stop the hottest team in the league. FC Dallas in on a 10 game unbeaten run which has seen their offense score 22 goals and their defense give up 10 goals during that stretch. That's over 2 goals a game scored and 1 goal a game given up. This is not good news for a team like the Fire who are one of the most inconsistent teams in the league. How can the Fire slow down the likes rookie Tesho Akindele who has scored 7 goals in 17 games this year, or young DP Fabian Castillo who has tallied 9 goals and 4 assist in 21 appearances, and if Blas Perez's red card is overturned will our center backs be able to contain his size and skill?
The FC Dallas backline of Benitez, Watson, Hedges, and Loyd have made one of the most consistent backlines in the league. FC Dallas took the approach of drafting young talent and mixing them with veterans of the game and keeping them together year after year despite their record. This is the right way to build a defense and it has shown over the last 10 games. How does a team like the Fire find a way to create and finish against this backline? Well the Fire must use their speed to get in behind the backline. Long balls probably won't work against this big backline, sans Benitez, and the Fire should look to keep the ball on the ground like they did versus TFC. Use the wings and spread the field. Make sure Palmer and Segares get into the attack and help provide service into the box as well as the wings providing service. It worked twice versus TFC and why wouldn't it work again.
The Fire are going to have to press. Giving up the possession and sitting back to wait for the other team to attack is not going to work anymore since the men in red are in dire need of as many points as possible out of the final 10 games. Fight for the ball and make it tough for Dallas to work out of their end. Too many times this season have we seen the Fire give up possession in hopes of an effective counter attack. Let's face it this team is not built for counter attacks and when the Fire are able to pull one off there is maybe 2 or 3 players crashing the box while the ball is out on the wing. They need to press and in my opinion they should be pressing all game long because if the Fire are going to miss the playoffs then they should miss them by going all out and making it as tough as possible for the opponents.
Hey What's Going to Happen?
10 games left and that's it for the 2014 regular season and this game means much more to the fans who still cherish tradition and rivalries. Will the Fire be able to prolong the season by making a push to get into the playoffs as well as keeping hold of the Brimstone Cup? Well 3 points will definitely help but unfortunately it's not going to happen this week. Let's face it, the Fire and their anemic defense and toothless offense is going up against the hottest team in the league and one of the best teams on the road. I just don't think the Fire can slow down the rolling FC Dallas team enough to get the upper hand. I foresee a final scoreline of 3-1 in favor to Dallas. I hope I'm wrong but I just don't see this one being pretty at all for cf97.