Fire v Whitecaps Match Preview

Two teams at the bottom of table are looking to keep faint playoff hopes alive with a victory on Sunday in Vancouver.  The Whitecaps are the worst team in the league with 15 total points and a 0-5-1 record in their last six matches.  Some in the Vancouver media view the Fire as an opportunity to get back into the race.  Given the Fire's less than stellar 0-2-5 mark in their last seven it's not difficult to see why.  Sebastian Grazzini and Pavel Pardo provided reason for optimism on Wednesday night but the Fire's string of near recording breaking draws continued even with the impressive debut of both players in central midfield.

Despite losing 4-0 to Los Angeles at home last weekend Tom Soehn's side is a bit more competitive at Empire Field (2-3-5) than they are on the road (0-8-4).  The line-up included Joe Cannon in goal with Jonathan Leathers, Michael Boxall, Alain Rochat, and Jordan Harvey in the back from left to right.  All indications are that Soehn will not make many changes to last weekend's first eleven.

One change will come as a result of international duty as newly acquired DP Mustapha Jarju will be away with Gambia.  The leaves the dangerous Eric Hassli up top with either rookie Omar Salgado or Camilo, who started at left mid against the Galaxy.  The speedy Shea Salinas lines up on the right side.  If Logan Pause continues at right back the match-up with Camilo or Salinas if he switches over will be one to watch.  Gershon Koffie and playmaker David Chiumiento are the central midfielders.  Chiumiento leads Vancouver with 8 assists and will be a challenge for the revamped Fire midfield.

It seems that Frank Klopas prefers a 4-5-1 formation at the moment and has indicated that he may go back to it this Sunday.  If he does Cristian Nazirit must replace Dominic Oduro as the target man for the formation to succeed.  Oduro's talents are simply not catered to holding up the ball and making himself available in the box as target forwards must do in a one striker formation.  Starting Nazirit will necessitate that either Oduro, Patrick Nyarko, or Marco Pappa gets moved to the bench since Klopas also seems to prefer two holding players behind Grazzini.  My guess is we'll see a midfield consisting of Grazzini in the middle with Pardo and Daniel Paladini in the holding spots again and Oduro and Pappa on the outside.  This could be an issue because both Oduro and Pappa are more comfortable on the right, but we'll see.  Diego Chaves did not travel due to a knee injury suffered on Wednesday night.

Cory Gibbs did not travel with team after suffering a groin injury on Wednesday night.  The injury does not appear to be serious but it was enough to keep him out of training on Thursday and Friday.  Jalil Anibaba was solid in relief against Philadelphia but I'm expecting Yamith Cuesta and Josip Mikulic, two bigger bodies in central defense to battle Hassli.  Gonzalo Segares and Sean Johnson are givens so the only other decision in back would be a choice between Pause and Anibaba on the right.  Pause had a decent game at this spot but Vancouver's pace will be something to consider.

Injury Report

CHICAGO FIRE -- OUT: DF Steven Kinney (L groin strain); MF Marko Maric (L posterior capsulitis); DF Mike Banner (R knee meniscus tear); DF Cory Gibbs (L groin strain); DOUBTFUL: FW Gabriel Ferrari (R ankle sprain); QUESTIONABLE: FW Diego Chaves (R knee irritation)

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC -- OUT: FW Atiba Harris (R knee surgery); PROBABLE: MF Davide Chiumiento (R calf strain); DF Jay DeMerit (R adductor strain)

Referee

Chris Penso

Prediction

The Fire and Whitecaps played to a frustrating 0-0 draw at Toyota Park on May 7 in a match that featured little interest in actually attacking or going forward from the visitors.  This time the Whitecaps will need to be more offensive minded and attempt to push the game given their position in the standings.  The same can be said of the Fire.  Both teams should come out with a sense of urgency as the season lies in the balance.  The loser will likely have playoff hopes turned into prayers.

Fire 2 Whitecaps 1

Losing to expansion sides Vancouver and Portland in the same season?  Can't happen.

The Rest of the League

Columbus 1 Colorado 2 - Somehow the Crew are atop the Eastern Conference.  I still haven't figured out how.  Sanna Nyassi is on a ridiculous roll of late.

Chivas 1 New England 1 - The Revolution hope to unveil new DP Milton Caraglio in an important match for New England.

Toronto 1 DC 2 - Is Toronto still the worst team in the league?  Even with all the recent transactions and dual DP signings?

Houston 1 Philadelphia 1 - The Dynamo hammered Seattle last weekend and now they have Carlos Costly.  The Union officially unloaded Carlos Ruiz.

Seattle 2 Sporting KC 2 - Very interesting match up with the former Wizards are riding a 14 match unbeaten string but missing central defender Aurelien Collin.

New York 1 Real Salt Lake 1 - Both clubs are struggling a bit as RSL is really starting to miss Javier Morales but New York is coming off of international travel after winning the meaningless Emirates Cup competition that Hans Backe did bother to show up for.

FC Dallas 0 Los Angeles 1 - Another interesting match up with the two teams at the top of the table battling for the Supporter's Shield.  After getting thumped in Portland I expect LA to get it done.

Portland 1 San Jose 1 - The Earthquakes are dropping like a rock but the Timbers are terrible on the road.

 

Comments

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  • I'm actually pumped up and hopeful having read this. I'm also wondering about the line up, where Pause will be, and which of our players will put the ball in the net, twice.

  • I wanted to roll out this formation against Philly:

    ----------Nazarit-----------
    Pappa-Grazzini-Oduro
    ------Pardo---Pause-----

    Glad to see we agree. Agree wholeheartedly that if we play a single striker, it must be Nazarit. Oduro was predictably terrible in that role. Probably have Barouch relieve Nazarit at some point.

  • In reply to iron81:

    I prefer that line up myself if they're going to go with a 4-5-1. Nyarko would be the first sub off the bench for me.

  • How did I miss that Banner went from Doubtful to Out again? Did he have a setback? His injury was so long ago I don't remember if this meniscus tear is the same old injury or a new one. What's the story? And Kinney's injury was an ACL or and Achilles, no? Now he has a groin injury? Last year's prognosis was that he would be out for the first 6-10 games, not the whole season. Ugh.

    I agree, Nazarit needs to be up top, not Oduro, with the 4-5-1. It made no sense to me to swap Grazzini for Nazarit on Wednesday since they seem like they need to be on together. Oduro just isn't accurate enough to be up top. I remember reading that Grazzini was tired, but I expected Chaves for him, who has some skill in creating, rather than Narazit.

  • In reply to Fuegofan:

    Banner has been involved in full training the last few weeks, but his original injury had to do with achilles problems. Kinney had been running and working up to a full training return before this latest groin injury.

  • I expect that the Fire will not make the playoff if Paladini continues to be in the starting lineup game after game, he just isn't that good.
    Orr and Nazarit should start at the front. Just having Nazarit on top
    doesn't present much options on offense. It might work against the
    Whitecaps since they are more dismal than the Fire, but most other savvy teams will drop back and cover Nazarit.
    Orr has the quickest and most accurate foot on the team, if he had as many open shots as Oduro, he'd lead the Fire in goals scored.
    The 1-4-5 scheme is too conservative. In the reserve games
    Orr and Nazarit worked very well together and not working against one another.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    I prefer two forwards as well, unless you have another top notch finisher on the wings....which they don't.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    I'm also wondering why Barrouch isn't getting more mention. I've been more impressed with him than Nazarit or Oduro. I am no tactician, but is there a good reason why he's not our answer at the top of the formation?

  • In reply to madtown:

    My guess for the reasons.....
    1. experience
    2. pace
    3. goal posts

  • Did you see how well we played on Wednesday. That lineup that started the game would make the playoffs for sure if they were given a full season. Oduro should be on a wing and Nyarko should come on for him. Nazarit up top with that lineup wins that game Wednesday.

    ---------------Nazarit---------------------
    Pappa-------Grazzini---------Oduro
    --------Paladini-----Pardo------------
    Segares--Mikulic--Gibbs---Pause
    ---------------Johnson------------------

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Possibly.....maybe even likely but one thing everyone can agree on is that Oduro should not be on top by himself.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    To be up top all by yourself , you better have a few moves , Oduro has no moves , he has break away speed but no soccer moves , imigine if he had just one move.

  • After playing in only one match this season it looks like John Thorrington is ready to play tomorrow.......

    http://espn.go.com/blog/los-angeles/soccer/post/_/id/10198/mls-thorringtons-ready-to-play-finally

  • Tomorrow is our absolute best opportunity to make up some ground. Every single team in our conference either tied or lost to the West.

  • Wouldn't mind seeing Barouch up top either, but Nazarit seems the more likely choice. I personally don't want to see Pause next to Pardo, I thought Pause was better at RB. That said, I know we can't allow him to get burned by a speedy winger, as one mistake could be all that seperates us at this point from a win and a loss, especially against Vancouver. Subs would be Barouch for Nazarit, Bone for Grazzini, Nyarko for Oduro. Move Pappa to the middle and Bone to the wing upon Grazzini's exit.

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    I know this is off topic, but that poll is getting jacked up. What success is there if you make the playoff but win nothing? Playoffs mean only one thing, you get to play for the championship. It doesn't mean you have won anything. Winning a US Open Cup is a success. Getting to the playoffs is nothing, until you win it all.

  • If Oduro starts on the wing, he needs to be on the right, which puts Nyarcko or Pappa on the bench. Frankly, I vote for Patrick going to be bench for two reasons. One, he doesn't shoot and therefore doesn't score. Second, his penetrating runs have not lead to the number of scoring chances needed from a wing. If he comes in off the bench, his speed and ability on the ball can take any hope away from a team as long as the Fire are up when he comes in. If Vancouver is going forward pressing for a goal, Patrick's speed on the wing plus his ability to pick out Oduro on long diagonal passes could lead to an easy goal (or in Oduro's case an easy point blank shot at the keeper). So they should go with Nazarit up top with Oduro, Pappa, Grazzini, Pardo, and Palladini in the midfield with the usual suspects along the back line. By the way, I really do not think our back line players have been given enough positive commentary. I really think that as a unit no matter who is in, they are all working very well together.

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    In reply to Krasov:

    Agreed. We don't give them enough credit for their steady play. Although we did grill Sean pretty hard earlier in the season when somebody else was in his body. Patrick was much more effective when trailed by players who could score, like McBride in his first year back, and by Rolfe even. Hopefully, if they keep playing him, Graz will pick up on this.

  • Oduro is back up top as a lone forward today. I like this even less than I did on Wednesday.

    Starting line up

    Johnson
    Pause, Mikulic, Cuesta, Segares
    Pardo, Paladini, Pappa, Nyarko, Grazzini
    Oduro

  • Apparently Klopas has a slow learning curve.
    Actually it might work against the lowly Whitecaps,
    but that will go to his head and he'll continue the same lineup game after game, tie after tie.
    Can't see the value of having Nyarko, Oduro, and Pappa on the field at the same time, plus Paladinni doesn't add much to the offense.
    This is not the strongest or most effective line-up the Fire has available.

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