With only three days remaining before they take on Real Salt Lake in the Eastern Conference Final, the Fire is looking for all of their injured players to return to the field to help Chicago advance to its first MLS Cup Final since 2003.
Unfortunately for the Fire though, it doesn't appear as if all of their banged-up players will be available on Saturday night at Toyota Park. Here's a full rundown...
**Brian McBride -**
McBride, who had to leave last Saturday's game in the 55th minute with an IT band injury, resumed training with the Fire today for the first time since picking up his injury.
The Fire is taking a wait and see approach with McBride this week - stressing the importance of not having him aggravate his injury any further.
"Brian came out today and he trained for the first part of training," said Fire Head Coach Denis Hamlett. "We're just being cautious with him right now." Right now, I would predict that McBride will be in the starting lineup on Saturday. His match fitness certainly won't be a concern and we all know the stories of his toughness/ability to heal quickly. That said, I wouldn't be entirely surprised if we saw Patrick Nyarko on the field at some point this coming Saturday. The young Ghanaian forward put in a strong performance against New Engalnd and if McBride isn't able to go (or go the full 90) Nyarko is more than capable of filling in for him.
**Wilman Conde -**
The Fire's Defender of the Year, the center back Conde has not played since October 2nd due to a variety of injuries/ailments. Conde, who is listed as questionable with a pinched sciatic nerve, resumed training with the team today.
"Wilman trained as a neutral today," said Fire Head Coach Denis Hamlett. "We still have two more days to make a final decision with him though, so we'll see."
If I had to guess I would say that Conde won't see the field on Saturday night. The fact is that he hasn't participated in full training in quite some time and I would assume Denis Hamlett wouldn't want to risk running a player out who isn't 100% in a game of this magnitude - especially when you consider how well Dasan Robinson (Conde's replacement) did last Saturday night.
**Gonzalo Segares -**
Segares, who hasn't played since tweaking his left MCL in his return from injury in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semis, is behind Conde in where he is in terms of training and isn't likely to see the field this Saturday night.
Should Segares miss out on the match, Daniel Woolard would likely get the start in his place at left back. Woolard, who himself is only just returning from a high ankle sprain, played well last Saturday against New England and has earned the confidence of Hamlett.
"His training has been solid," Hamlett said of Woolard. "We felt like we needed another guy to take care of Nyassi on the flanks and to his credit I thought he had a very good game [on Saturday]. He defended very well and took Nyassi out of the play for the most part. He's a solid guy. You know what you're going to get from him."
**Tim Ward -**
Ward, who has been out since August 5th with a broken left metatarsal, isn't listed on this week's injury report and is participating in full training with the Fire. However, I don't expect Ward to get the start on Saturday night - mainly because of concerns about his match fitness/sharpness and the solid play of his replacement - Brandon Prideaux - in recent weeks.
**Chris Rolfe -**
Rolfe picked up a knock to his quad recently and is listed as probable on the Fire's injury report. Denis Hamlett told me that he will be available though so no worries Fire fans - you'll get to send him off properly in his final home game.