To say that the Fire and the Galaxy are merely similar is a colossal understatement. It's taking the easy way out. I mean, one would almost have to write a book to properly describe the seemingly dozens of statistical similarities between the Fire and L.A. Lucky for you, Fire Confidential is in the "writing" business so I think it's time I used this handy little media outlet and provided a little statistical evidence for my opening claim. Check it out. Not only do the Fire and the Galaxy share the same exact record (10-6-11 for those of you wondering...), but they also have all these little things in common:
1) Both sit in second place in their respective conferences
2) Both are awful at home
3) Both are fantastic on the road (they are the only teams in MLS with a positive road goal differential)
4) Both have star players dealing with injuries
5) Both have a shot to clinch a playoff berth with a win
So with all that the Fire and the Galaxy have in common, what will separate them once the first whistle blows tonight? Well, that's tough to say. Let's take a closer look...
**The Play of Landon Donovan**
The Galaxy's star midfielder/forward is enjoying a career year. He led the U.S. National Team to a successful summer of Confederations Cup/World Cup Qualifying and his MLS exploits haven't been any less impressive, as he has notched 10 goals and 6 assists on the year. One of those 10 goals came in the Galaxy's impressive 2-0 win over the Fire back on August 19th, and the Fire will have to limit Landon if they want to even the season series with L.A.
"You have to make sure now that you make things real hard for him," Fire Head Coach Denis Hamlett said of the 27-year-old Donovan. "He's so good that if he can get free he's [very dangerous]."
Though the Fire will be paying a little extra attention to Donovan on the field tonight, they won't have any one player shadow him throughout.
"He's tough to defend because you don't know where he's going to line up," said Hamlett. "Last game he lined up on the left, against us he was on the left, a couple games ago he lined up as a second forward, it just comes down to where we are in relation to where he lines up. More importantly we just have to be aware of him. It's a team concept. We have to make sure that when he's in the attacking third of the field that we handle him."
**The Fire's Finishing**
Though the Fire have not had any recent problems putting the ball in the back of net, the team has struggled closing out games, in part because they fail to finish chances that would put the game out of reach.
The first example of this that comes to mind is Calen Carr's botched chance in the tie with Toronto this past Saturday, but other players (Patrick Nyarko, for example...) have been guilty of poor finishing as well. If the Fire wants to get all three points tonight, the finishing will have to be spot on as L.A.'s defense doesn't figure to give up too many chances.
I'm currently in the middle of a power outage here in Evanston, so I'll stick with that theme and say that the match will be a defensive battle, with the Fire eventually pulling through 1-0. McBride will get the winner for the Fire and they will continue their winning ways on the road.
Congrats to Adam25 for being the only one to correctly predict a tie for the Fire-TFC game. Let's see if anyone can knock him off the top spot on the prediction perch...
[Fire-Galaxy Match Preview -- August 19th](http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/chicago-fire-confidential/2009/08/fire-vs-la-galaxy-match-preview.html)
[Fire-Galaxy Match Report -- August 19th](http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/chicago-fire-confidential/2009/08/fire-0----galaxy-2-fire-fall-flat.html)