Fire v Union : Match Preview - McBride & Pappa Doubtful, Thorrington Out Yet Again

The Fire head into Philadelphia facing another must win situation.  After consecutive draws that felt like losses the team should realize that time is quickly running out if they are to make a run for one of the remaining possible playoff spots.  The first contest between the two sides resulted in a 2-1 Fire victory that Union manager Peter Nowak was not happy with.  "The team that is supposed to play attractive soccer, attacking soccer at home played with 10 guys in the back, behind the ball," Nowak said after the game. "I think we expected something different playing against an expansion team. I believe that in our league this kind of stuff is not supposed to happen. But it's a good lesson for all of us."

Although the match was played in June the Fire was already in mid season form allowing a stoppage time goal by Danny Mwanga that would be a harbinger of the maddeningly frustrating failure to close matches which has become the signature of this squad so far this season. 

Peter Nowak continues to stand by goalkeeper Chris Seitz and his ongoing struggles while the back line may be slightly different than the one he deployed in June.  Defender Juan Diego Gonzalez has started the last six matches but he is now doubtful with an injury.  Michael Orozco Fiscal is also on the injury report with a hamstring strain.  Danny Califf and Jordan Harvey have been fixtures all season.  Christian Arrieta is likely to return to the line up if Gonzalez is unavailable. 

Another recent starter in midfield Eduardo Coudet missed their last match and may not be available for this one.  Stefani Miglioranzi fills the holding position with varied combinations of Roger Torres, Fred, Andrew Jacobson, Jack McInerney, and Justin Mapp completing the midfield picture.  Mapp has provided a spark off the bench in recent matches but started the Kansas City game last week.  As always, Mapp continues to be something of an enigma. Something the Fire organization and fans are very familiar with.  Speedy Shea Salinas may also be available after a long injury absense. 

The Union are very dangerous up top with Sebastian LeToux and Danny Mwanga combining for an impressive 17 total goals although most of Mwanga's have come off the bench.  Former Crew diver extraordinaire Alejandro Moreno also sees minutes at forward and has chipped in with one score. 

Nothing is easy for the Fire.  Brian McBride and Marco Pappa are doubtful for the match and incredibly, John Thorrington is out yet again although none are listed in the "official" MLS match preview injury report.  I would expect that Wilman Conde, CJ Brown, and Dasan Robinson resume their usual positions on defense after Wednesday night's experiment with a faux three man back line that featured Mike Banner as a dual left back/left mid (although it was 90% left back).  Hopefully Krzyzstof Krol replaces Banner at left back while Gonzalo Segares serves the second match of a two game suspension received for a bone-headed forearm swipe at Leonardo in the Los Angeles match. 

The midfield is yet another puzzle as Carlos De Los Cobos tries to discover how best to use Nery Castillo and Freddie Ljugnberg on the pitch at the same time.  Logan Pause, Patrick Nyarko, Freddie Ljugnberg and possibly Baggio Husidic or the aforementioned Mike Banner are my guesses in midfield. 

That leaves Castillo and Collins John at the forward spots.  Of course, De Los Cobos could always elect to move Ljungberg further up with Castillo filling in at left mid where he appears to be less comfortable. 

Injury Report


DOUBTFUL: Juan Diego Gonzalez D (L groin strain); QUESTIONABLE : Toni Stahl D (R ankle strain), Eduardo Coudet M (R calf strain); PROBABLE : Michael Orozco Fiscal D (L hamstring strain)


OUT : John Thorrington M (unknown); DOUBTFUL : Marco Pappa M (hamstring strain), Brian McBride F (quad contusion)


Edvin Jurisevic


The Fire faces a must win situation almost every day for the rest of the season.  Beating an expansion side late in the year is an absolute must.  Kinda like beating a team with a 1-8-1 record on the road and directly in front of you in the standings is a must.

Fire 2 Union 1

The Rest of the League

Chivas 1 New England 1 - The Revolution can actually move ahead of the Fire in the table with a road victory and a Fire loss or tie. 

Toronto 2 DC 0 - Toronto is back home and DC is just awful.  TFC currently sits on 27 points compared to the Fire's 25. 

New York 2 Colorado 1 - The first of four road visits against the league's top teams for Colorado.  If they manage a win here they are going to be hard to catch for a playoff spot.  The Rapids have also been talking up the smack going into this one.

San Jose 1 FC Dallas 1 - The match is in San Jose and FCD is playing without their two starting center backs.  San Jose goes without Kari Stephenson and Sam Cronin.  The Earthquakes are currently seven points better than the Fire.

Los Angeles 2 Columbus 1 - The top team in the west against the top team in the east.  Galaxy needs to make a stand to boost sagging form. 

A View From The City of Brotherly Love

I exchanged a brief Q&A with Scott Kessler of SBN Philly's A Brotherly Game.  He provided some out of town perspective on Justin Mapp, Peter Nowak, and the Fire's playoff chances.  Check it out here.




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  • Thorrington's injury has been identified as a hamstring strain on the Philadelphia Union's site.

  • In reply to cesba:

    What a shock!!! Thorrington is unreliable; it is amazing. I assume that De Los Cobos will go with the 4-4-1-1.

  • In reply to cesba:

    My MLS Week 24 picks Overall Record: 79-60-39

    Chicago over Toronto FC (0-0 tie)
    Real Salt Lake and Seattle (tie) (0-0 tie)
    Chivas USA over New England
    Toronto FC over DC United
    New York over Colorado
    Chicago over Philadelphia
    FC Dallas over San Jose
    Los Angeles over Columbus

  • In reply to longoria3:

    How could YOU have 39 ties? You either get it right or wrong. If you pick a tie and they do then you got it right. If you pick a tie and one team wins, you got it wrong...

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Depends on how you calculate the records. You can look at it either way. If you pick a team and the result is a tie it can be considered a tie or a loss. I've seen it both ways.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Maybe... But he is picking ties for games. Maybe if he was only picking wins and losses then he could maybe justify taking a tie if they do, but I dont think you can do that if you're picking ties for games. He's 79-99 in my eyes.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    I do it the same way. If you pick a tie in a game and the tie occurs then it goes in the win column. If you pick a tie and one of the two sides ends up winning then it's considered a loss.

  • In reply to longoria3:

    I say Fire lead 2-1 then Danny ties it up in stoppage for final of 2-2. But if the Fire played to their potential it would be 3-0.

  • In reply to Adam25:

    maybe we see
    Calen John
    Patrick Freddy Pause Nery
    Desan Conde CJ Krol

  • In reply to Adam25:

    We never play a 4-4-2.

    Banner Nery Nyarko
    Krol Conde Brown Kinney

    DLC loves him some Banner and we probably play him on the wing.

  • If he's healthy enough to start, he should be healthy enough to go 90. No player should be out there if they can't play a full 90.

  • There's nooone to blame for Thorrington's remarkable injury run over the last several years. Really can't pin that on DLC. If the player and the doctors tell you they're ready then you play them.

  • In reply to cesba:


  • In reply to cesba:

    I'm assuming that if DLC puts Banner in the lineup, he's going for the tie.
    Not only does De Los Moron have difficulty determining what formation
    to use, what players to play, but has a math deficit as well. The goal is to win
    and to win the strongest players should start in their appropriate positions.
    I think that most contributors to this blog could name at least three or four players
    that should start instead of Banner.

  • In reply to cesba:

    1-0 Red Bulls over Colorado (18'). Henry scores on a beautiful give and go from Lindpere.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Tim Ream scored to increase the Red Bulls lead to 2-0.

  • In reply to longoria3:

    On an assist from another rookie, Tony Tchani.

    I thought there was some sort of rule against MLS teams winning at home ;)

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