The Fire and Kansas City are set to meet for the second time this season on Sunday (2 p.m. on TeleFutura) in a game in which both teams will be looking to get back into the win column.
"It's huge," said Fire midfielder Peter Lowry of the match. "Kansas City's going to be a tough challenge. They're going to be battling and hungry for some wins. It's going to be a tough test but it's going to be even more important for us to get back on track."
Kansas City - who hasn't won in the league since June 13th - fired former Head Coach Curt Onalfo after August 1st's 6-0 annihilation at the hands of FC Dallas and will be playing their first match under Interim Head Coach Peter Vermes.
The second place Fire - who carries a two game losing streak into the match - must be ready from the opening whistle as Kansas City will likely try to apply a lot of early pressure.
"They're going to come out hard," said Head Coach Denis Hamlett. "We have to be good with the ball and we have to be aggressive against them to sort of put them on their heels. I think the beginning will be tough but hopefully we can get through it and get ourselves in the game as it goes along."
The Fire will be without a boat load of players for the match as defenders Tim Ward, Gonzalo Segares and Daniel Woolard all went down last week and will be out for 3 + weeks. It remains to be seen whether or not center back Wilman Conde or midfielder John Thorrington will play in the match as both are listed as questionable with injuries of their own.
Not sure whether midfielder Cuauhtemoc Blanco will make an appearance in the match or not either. Temo is 36 after all, and after coming off a hard 90 minutes on Sunday and 55 minutes (at altitude...) in Wednesday's U.S. - Mexico game, I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't play at Kansas City. It would definitely be a big blow for the Fire attack should Temo be unable to play as he always provides the offense with fantastic passing, solid finishing, and a spark that no other Fire player brings to the table.
Despite Kansas City's awful play throughout the last two months - they've only picked up 2 points in their last five matches - I do not have a good feeling about Sunday's game for the Fire. Whether it's the injuries, the fact that KC should be energized by the new head coach/two weeks since their last game, or the Fire's recent form, I just don't see the team getting out of KC with a win.
That said, I still think that the Fire are talented enough to get a point from the Wizards and I'll predict a 1-1 tie with goals from Josh Wolff and Chris Rolfe.
No shout out to a commenter for this preview though, as I (somehow...) managed to get a prediction dead-on with the USA - Mexico score. Hopefully someone beats me this time around - and hopefully that someone picks a Fire win...