Fire v Sporting KC - Match Preview & More

Sporting Kansas City comes into town minus one famous "trialist" but they've still got some star power, particularly up front.  Chivas Guadalajara hero Omar Bravo is coming off of a 2 goal debut against the California version of the Goats although he should find the Fire defense tougher to beat than the mistake prone outfit that he faced last week.  Bravo will start off on the left side of Peter Vermes' three man forward line with rookie CJ Sapong, who also scored against Zach Thornton and Chivas USA in the opener, as the lead striker.  Kei Kamara started on the right in their opener but he is unavailable due to international duty with Sierra Leone.  The Fire won't get much of a break since it appears USMNT forward Teal Bunbury will be available to start albeit with a brace on his right arm after dislocating his elbow in preseason.  Bunbury was in the 18 last weekend but did not play. 

 

Kansas City deploys a 4-3-3 formation with one holding midfielder but Vermes decided to switch to two holding mids in the first half of the Chivas game in order to adjust to the opponent's efforts to get forward.  Stephen Auvray and Davy Arnaud will fill those positions while Serbian newcomer Milos Stojcev plays in front of them.  Craig Rocastle started last week before Vermes made the defensive switch in favor of Auvray. 

 

Defensively the former Wizards are still a question mark.  The back line of Roger Espinoza, Matt Besler, Julio Cesar, and Luke Sassano isn't an imposing one.  A relatively weak Chivas attack managed to score twice as a result of set pieces and the Fire should find some success there.  Chance Myers replaced Sassano late, and appears likely to get the nod on Saturday.  Michael Harrington, who would typically start on the right is listed as questionable on the injury report. 

 

The Fire hope to find Jimmy Nielsen easier to beat in goal than his Kansas City predecessor Kevin Hartman was last weekend. 

 

From the Fire's side I'm expecting to see Carlos De Los Cobos opt away from the 3-5-2 formation and stay with a four man back line due to Sporting's attacking prowess.  Jalil Anibaba will get a crack at slowing down Bravo on the right side while Gonzalo Segares won't have the speed of Kamara to deal with but he'll still have his hands full with Bunbury on the left.  Cory Gibbs and Josip Mikulic had very good outing against FC Dallas and appear to be a solid central pairing.  Sean Johnson wasn't tested much in Texas but he should be a little busier this time around. 

 

Bratislav Ristic will miss the home opener with a hip flexor strain so I'm assuming Patrick Nyarko will continue in his spot and resume his role in the starting eleven.  There probably won't be any other changes to the unit that got the call in Dallas last week.  De Los Cobos seems likely to stay with the defensive set of Logan Pause and Mike Videira against Kansas City since they've been the first team pairing all week in training.  Marco Pappa will move a bit more outside if a 4-4-2 is used. 

 

Gaston Puerari has missed time in training this week but it appears the Fire are being more cautious with him than anything else.  If Puerari can't go, Orr Barouch saw some time in training with Diego Chaves but De Los Cobos has a few other options including rookie Davis Paul, Gabriel Ferrari, or new acquisition Dominic Oduro.

 

Injury Report

 

Chicago

OUT : Mike Banner D (L Achilles tendinitis), Steven Kinney D (R Achilles repair); DOUBTFUL : Marko Maric  M (L hamstring strain), Bratislav Ristic M (L hip flexor strain)

 

Kansas City

 

OUT : Ryan Smith F (L knee inflammation), Konrad Warzycha F (R knee surgery); QUESTIONABLE : Michael Harrington D (L groin strain)

 

Prediction

 

The Fire need to build on the positive result last weekend and must start the 2011 season finally finding a way to defend home turf.  Kansas City has some impressive attacking power but they're susceptible in the back.

 

Fire 2 Sporting KC 1

 

The Rest of the League

 

International absences are going to make this weekend's slate hard to call but I'll give it a shot anyway.

 

Seattle 2 Houston 1 - Seattle won't want to drop more points at home this early and I just don't think Houston is as good as some experts think.

 

Toronto FC 1 Portland 0 - They can't possibly lose at home to another expansion side can they?

 

Philadelphia 2 Vancouver 1 - Can Nowak's boys go 2-0?

 

New York 1 Columbus 1 - The Red Bulls are missing Agudelo, Marquez, Ream, and Henry but Columbus is not good.  Warzycha should start feeling some heat.

 

DC United 1 New England 1 - Revs are missing Perovic but it's still fun to watch Charlie Davies' comeback no matter what you think of DC.

 

Real Salt Lake 1 Los Angeles  0 - Another tough one to call with Donovan and others not in action.

 

FC Dallas 2 San Jose 1 - Dallas needs to take care of business at home.

 

Colorado 1 Chivas USA 0 - Colorado seems to still be riding the momentum of winning MLS Cup. 

 

Fire TV

 

The match will be broadcast on Telefutura and My50.  The My50 local team in the booth will consist of Dan Kelly on play by play and former Fire Evan Whitfield joining the team as the new color commentator. 

 

 

Hauptman Meets with the Media

 

Ahead of tonight's Town Hall Meeting where fans will get to grill the Fire honchos on any topic that your hearts desire, Andrew Hauptman and Javier Leon met the local media yesterday to discuss all things Fire and MLS.  Here are some of the highlights:

 

  • A jersey sponsor agreement has not been reached yet although the team is involved in "serious discussions" with several possible partners.  An agreement does not appear to be immediately imminent as those talks continue.
  • The ratings for the opener in Dallas produced the highest number ever for a Fire telecast on Comcast SportsNet.  Ever.
  • The Fire's technical staff traveled more on scouting missions this off season than they have for any other season (in the last 3 years) combined. 
  • The team currently has approximately 5000 season ticket holders for 2011.  They have had the largest increase for one season in club history. 
  • Nothing has been signed yet but the Fire are hopeful of playing Manchester United this summer in Chicago.  I'm guessing the game will be part of this MLS announcement. 
  • If that match were to occur, it will be a part of the season ticket holder package. 
  • The team store at Toyota Park won't be ready for a Grand Opening this weekend but it should be open and selling Fire items this weekend.
  • Fire merchandise will be available at FansEdge stores this summer.
  • Despite whispered rumors over the last few years, Hauptman has no intention of selling the team.  He also said he has never received, entertained, or solicited offers.  "I don't know where those rumors come from," said Hauptman.
  • Although the split was amicable, the team chose not to pursue a renewal of Freddie Ljungberg's contract. 
  • The team will still look at Designated Player options if the right player is available.
  • Leon may be meeting with a player that the team is intersted in this weekend.  That player only speaks Spanish. 

 

 

 

 

Comments

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  • You think the higher TV ratings will continue this weekend thru out MLS?

  • In reply to Adam25:

    Probably not. It's a home game so you lose 20,000 (I hope) eyeballs right there. Also, it's on Spanish TV. How do ratings for those games compare to games on local TV or ESPN? But, the weather will be crap tomorrow so maybe that will give us a boost.
    Speaking of TV, my friend wants to go to the Tilted Kilt after the game to watch some NCAA hoops. Is there a good chance they'll show the US-Arg game.

  • In reply to oliotya:

    Hey Doug, it's on ESPN2 tomorrow at 6. They have a bunch of TVs and obviously get the Deuce. I bet a few other people will be interested in watching it, too, so gang up if you have to and demand that shiz! ha, they can definitely put it on one tv at least.

  • In reply to oliotya:

    Getting the game on TV won't be the problem. The problem is the Wiz Away Supporters are having their US-Arg watch party at the Tilted Kilt. There will be a 100+ of those tards present.

  • In reply to iron81:

    that's some good investigative work right there, iron81! Good to know

  • In reply to iron81:

    Leaving for the match now C'MON FIRE!! The armbands are a very nice tribute to Brandon. Thanks GR for all you do. GO FIRE!!

  • In reply to iron81:

    went by the fire store before the game not too bad bought my little one her 1st tee...

  • In reply to Adam25:

    My picks for Week 2 Record Overall: 6-2-2

    Seattle over Houston (2-1)
    Philadelphia over Vancouver (1-0)
    Sporting Kansas City and Chicago (tie) (2-2)
    Portland over Toronto FC (2-0)
    New York over Columbus (2-1)
    DC United over New England (1-0)
    Los Angeles and Real Salt Lake (tie) (0-0)
    FC Dallas over San Jose (3-1)
    Colorado over Chivas USA (2-0)

  • In reply to longoria3:

    Just curious, how do you "tie" in your predictions? Don't you either get it right or not?

    Not trying to be a jerk, but looks like you are cooking the books. :)

  • In reply to Drew:

    Example: Week 1, New England were playing Los Angeles and I picked the Galaxy to win that game. Since the conclusion of that match resulted in a 1-1 draw, nobody won and it results in a tie. Drew, I hope that helps.

  • In reply to Drew:

    houston should be losing to seattle 4-0 at half. instead they are up 1-0. strange match

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    houston is turrible... just turrible

  • In reply to Drew:

    Orrin Schwarz's article on Hauptman in the Daily Herald......

    http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20110325/sports/703259833/

  • In reply to Drew:

    More trouble for KC on defense. Their injury report has been updated:

    SPORTING KANSAS CITY -- OUT: MF Ryan Smith (L knee inflamation); FW Konrad Warzycha (R knee surgery); DF Michael Harrington (L groin strain); DF Julio Cesar (R lower leg laceration; DF Korede Aiyegbusi (R ankle sprain); PROBABLE: MF Luke Sassano (R ankle sprain)

    Central defender Julio Cesar is out

  • In reply to Drew:

    Leo Percovich is lighter in the pocket for some sin committed during the Carolina Challenge Cup......

    http://www.mlssoccer.com/news/article/mls-announces-discipline-joseph-percovich

  • In reply to Drew:

    Taking a look at 3-5-2.......

    http://www.mlssoccer.com/news/article/armchair-analyst-3-defenders-thing-past

  • Also of note, the Fire went head to head against the opening weekend of the NCAA tournament last weekend, so ratings records in that scenario are more impressive.

  • Zoltan Gera is going to be a free agent this summer. He is someone that the Fire should look at. He can play any attacking position and was Fulham's player of the season last year.

  • Awesome preview again, GR! I like our chances tomorrow. KC did look good last weekend, but as you pointed out, Chivas I think is going to be very bad this year. Thanks for relaying those bits from the Hauptman/Leon meeting last night; all stuff that us fans are always interested in reading about.

    The more I think about it, the less I care that we don't have a sponsor. Ultimately, it's up to Hauptman. If he doesn't mind not having that extra money coming in, then that's up to him. It doesn't seem like he's sacrificing much because of it (extended scouting trips, building store, etc). Sure, it's nice to think that they could put that money in to something like radio coverage or more marketing, but I'm starting to believe that's not going to happen no matter what. I'm not just being cynical about that -- if either of those things was a priority, it would have been done by now. If he really just wanted some quick cash from a shirt sponsor, I have no doubt they could have secured something, from someone, for a quick payday. There is obviously something more they are seeking, and good for them.

  • "I don't know where those rumors come from," said Hauptman.

    Hmmm... I have no idea either. Who would say such a thing?

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Some bad information....

  • so if puerari is not listed on the injury report, does that mean he is still likely to be in the lineup, or does that mean the injury occurred after the injury report was filed?

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    It means the injury isn't that bad.

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