In order to keep their slim playoffs hopes alive the Fire have an opportunity to reclaim some hardware from an old nemesis. FC Dallas (or the team from Dallas previously known as the Burn) has held onto the Brimstone Cup since 2002 and are currently riding a 17 game unbeaten streak. The MLS all time best is 19 set by the Crew in 2004/2005. The 17 game stretch which has seen the Hoops go 9-0-8 during that period is already an MLS record for one season.
Since taking over a struggling Dallas side in 2008, Schellas Hyndman has helped turn the team into one of the best in MLS for 2010. They are 7-1-5 at home while only allowing 11 goals against at sparcely attended Pizza Hut Park. Kevin Hartman was having a spectacular year in goal before encountering a silly kick from Thierry Henry and spraining his right MCL. FCD veteran Dario Sala is back in front of the net in Hartman's absense.
Dallas will go into this match with some issues defensively. Starting half backs George John and Ugo Ihemelu have both missed time over the last several weeks due to injury and both are not likely to see action tomorrow according to reports. They have been replaced in the line up by Zach Loyd and Jackson Goncalves (although Kyle Davies started their last match in KC). The outside backs are solid with Heath Pearce and Jair Benitez on the right and left respectively.
Goncalves, acquired in August, has also seen considerable minutes as a central midifielder next to Eric Alexander in Hyndman's 4-5-1 formation. Atiba Harris and Brek Shea (who is returning from a red card 2 game suspension) are the wingers. Shea is enjoying something of a breakout season with 5 goals and 4 assists while earning a call up for upcoming USMNT friendlies. Marvin Chavez and Dax McCarty have also seen time in midfield.
David Ferreira is an MVP candidate while playing the withdrawn forward spot although he has cooled lately. The usual starter as the front man has been Milton Rodriguez but the true danger up top is posed by Jeff Cunningham. The well traveled Cunningham has scored ten goals this season as a part time starter and stands only 1 goal behind DC's Jamie Moreno for the honor of being MLS' all time leading goal scorer.
The Fire are now playing their third game in just seven days but are following up their best effort of the season in San Jose. Since the succesful line up used in San Jose on Wednesday night utilized some players that haven't seen big minutes this year I would hope that Carlos De Los Cobos continues to utilize the same unit. The only change could be inserting Gonzalo Segares at left back if he is fit. Segares is listed as probable with a quad strain.
OUT: Mike Banner M (bilateral achilles tendinitis), Baggio Husidic M (R quad strain); QUESTIONABLE: Nery Castillo F (L quad strain); PROBABLE: Gonzalo Segares D (R quad strain)
OUT: Ugo Ihemelu D (concussion), Kevin Hartman GK (R knee MCL sprain), Daniel Hernandez M (L hamstring strain); QUESTIONABLE: George John D (L hamstring strain)
FC Dallas tied the Fire 1-1 back in May at Toyota Park. It's difficult to tell after one game if De Los Cobos has finally found a combination that works well together but the signs in San Jose were promising. Unfortunately Dallas is a very difficult place to play this season.
FC Dallas 1 Fire 0
The Rest of the League
Seattle 2 TFC 0 - Seattle is back at home needing a win to maintain their playoff position. They also play the Crew on Tuesday in the US Open Cup final so it will be interesting to see how Sigi Schmid plays this one.
Houston 1 Union 1 - Both teams are essentially out of it athough Philly fans are clinging and hoping for an even bigger miracle than the Fire need.
New York 2 Kansas City 0 - This game is in New York and Henry should be back for the Red Bulls. If he is, it will be interesting to see what Backe does with Angel and Ballouchy.
RSL 2 Revolution 0 - The Revs are eliminated from playoff competition and Kreis is juggling CCL play.
Crew 2 San Jose 1 - Columbus has some issues ahead of the US Open Cup final but they should have enough to make Earthquake fans nervous down the stretch.
Colorado 3 DC 1 - Omar Cummings is on an amazing roll and DC is playing it out.
Galaxy 2 Chivas 1 - Superclasico indeed.
McBride and the USMNT
Fire team writer Jeff Crandall spoke to Brian McBride about being left off the US roster for the upcoming friendly against Poland in Chicago. McBride's response was typical of the class he has displayed throughout his career.
MLS 24 under 24
MLSsoccer.com ranked the top 24 players under age 24 currently playing in the league. Sean Johnson ranked #8 and Marco Pappa came in at #6.
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