Fire v Chivas USA match preview

Chivas USA isn't doing a whole lot to dispel the notion that they're not much more than just "the other team in Los Angeles".  Their last few seasons have been disastrous and their record at home this year is an unenviable 0-4-0.  Three of those four losses (Houston, Vancouver, Sporting KC, and Philadelphia) have come against Eastern Conference opposition.

The most important player on the squad could be goalkeeper Dan Kennedy whose heroics have kept them in just about every match.  Six of their eight games this season have ended in a 1-0 result and Kennedy has been the main factor particularly in a 1-0 win at Real Salt Lake on March 24.   Chivas will likely drop back multiple defenders against the Fire's pace up top so this should be a tight one.

Robin Fraser's team will struggle to score but they're composed in back, starting the same back line in all eight matches this season.  Ante Jazic, Heath Pearce, Raushawn McKenzie, and James Riley from left to right form a pretty solid group.

Fraser leans toward a five man-midfield which should also limit space for Fire attackers and make breaking them down difficult.  Oswaldo Minda has played well from the deep lying role with Paolo Cardozo and Nick LaBrocca the likely starters in front of him in the middle.  LaBrocca had a break out year of sorts in 2011 but has been relatively quiet so far in 2012.  The starting outside players are harder to project.  Fraser has started Alejandro Moreno in midfield but his pace is well below that of a useful wing player.  Ryan Smith, Ben Zemanski, Miller Bolanos, and Laurent Courtois have all started at some point this year but none of those names should strike fear into any back line.  Zemanski is recovering from a knee sprain and should be available.

Juan Pablo Angel returned to the first eleven last weekend after recovering from an injury of his own but has yet to show the form that he seemed to recapture in a goal scoring spree late last season after coming over to Chivas from the Los Angeles Galaxy.  With either Moreno or Angel up top the Goats don't have much pace and should be a decent match up for the Fire's back line although the visitor's will have another change at center back in this match.  The club recently signed 19 year old Colombian striker Jose Correa but it's not likely he's more than a reserve in this match.

Rookie Austin Berry will make his MLS regular season debut along side veteran Arne Friedrich while Jalil Anibaba serves a one game suspension for "doing something" that was apparently red card worthy in the Seattle game.  Gonzalo Segares and Dan Gargan are back on the outside this weekend.  Frank Klopas also seems to be sticking with Sean Johnson in goal for now.

Marco Pappa has strung together two good performances.  An energized effort against Houston didn't produce a score but his substitution into the Seattle match changed the tone of the contest.  Pappa will certainly be teamed with the usual combination of Pavel Pardo, Logan Pause, and Sebastian Grazzini to complete the Fire midfield.  Chivas will attempt to slow things down and limit the spaces available for Grazzini to move the ball forward while possibly hoping to find Angel on a set piece or broken play.

Chris Rolfe will miss a third straight match while recovering from an ankle injury so the strike duo of Patrick Nyarko and Dominic Oduro will continue start for at least another match.  It will be difficult to get behind the Chivas defense since they are notoriously conservative already.


Baldomero Toledo

Injury Report

CHICAGO FIRE -- OUT: DF Cory Gibbs (R knee meniscus repair); MF Steven Kinney (R posterior tibialis tendinitis); QUESTIONABLE: FW Chris Rolfe (L ankle sprain)

CHIVAS USA -- OUT: MF Marvin Iraheta (L knee ACL); PROBABLE: MF Ben Zemanski (R knee MCL sprain)


This one could be a bit boring if Fraser decides to bunker and wait for a chance in leiu of offering any space to roam and counter to the speed of Fire attackers.  Friedrich and Berry haven't had much time to gel together (they teamed up against Louisville in a friendly) but Chivas' style of play should suit their strengths.  If LaBrocca and Angel are effectively marked, Chivas has little other options going forward.  CUSA has scored only four times in eight matches.  Cross country travel in MLS should not be underestimated but the Fire are a better side than Chivas USA at the moment.

Fire 1 Chivas USA 0




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  • Starting Line Up

    GK Johnson
    D Gargan, Friedrich, Berry, Segares
    M Pappa, Pardo, Grazzini, Pause
    F Nyarko, Oduro

    Bench: Tornaghi, Jumper, Videira, Paladini, Robayo, Puppo, Barouch

  • Chivas Line Up

    GK Kennedy
    D Riley, Valencia, McKenzie, Pearce
    M Minda, LaBrocca, Villafana, Bolanos
    F Moreno, Angel

    Bench: Melia, Jazic, Vagenas, Lahoud, Smith, Courtois, Correa

    Fraser has some changes in his line-up. Alters his back line for the first time this year moving Jazic to the bench. Also starting Moreno and Angel up top....not much pace in front at all.

  • The game can also be picked up online at

  • that looked like berry was a little off side?

  • In reply to Adam25:

    looking at the replay, he was onside when Grazzini released the ball. Oduro was offside but no factor in the play this time.

  • chivas giirls look pretty good....

  • Total fucking dive by Moreno. Both guys had their arms up, and he just goes magically somersaulting to the ground.

    Way more chances for the Fire, even if most come off of Chivas miscues/giveaways.

    Very slick finish from the debutant defender Berry.

    Very winnable game, we need to come out solid in the second half.

  • In reply to Ufficio:

    Total dive by Moreno but Berry has to learn not to put his hands on a jersey like that when you've got a guy who is notorious for diving anywhere near you.

  • fire look like they playing for a tie..?

  • Electric stuff from Grazzini this game. Now, if he'd just spend a little more time in the weight room...

  • i thought the fire would do better

  • Kennedy played a good game, I can't believe it took so long!!!

  • What a win! I guess that's why you leave Pappa in even if he struggles a bit.

    Very well-deserved.

  • RSL a waits. i wonder how that goes????

  • Not a fan of the lone striker up top, but it seemed to work against Chivas. Don't know that they do that every game with the same result, but good use of formation that played off the weakness of their opponent. Nyarko out wide spread out the defense a bit more.

    I wouldn't have minded if they scored the go-ahead earlier than the 92nd minute, but 3 points is 3 points.

  • I thought Austin Berry had a great first game despite being outfoxed for that penalty by Moreno. Berry had a real solid night with the exception of that one moment. Would like to see more of him.

    Overall this was another match in which the Fire appear to be coming together. Chivas' goalkeeper, Kennedy, had his hands full most of the night and only the usual great performance we seem to see from all the goalkeepers that face the Fire kept this from being a lopsided win. I too feared this would be another game where the result wouldn't earn the Fire the points they deserved for their performance.

    But then, that magical play. It just started and continued from one sweet touch to the next. And when you saw Pappa lining it up, you were on your feet already 'cause you could see it coming. What a great finish! And just the win this side needs going into the next two tough contests with Real Salt Lake coming in on Wednesday night, then Sporting Kansas City just 3 days later on Saturday night.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    Really pleased with Berry's performance. The penatly was a bit harsh; I saw it a couple times again on replays and there was enough contact for a foul, but it seemed to come outside the box. Once in the box Moreno had a handfull of Berry's jersey and took an unwarranted tumble. Tough call.

    The best part of Berry was he looked more than competant on corner kicks. He was very solid in the air and threatened consistantly. It was great to see because we have lacked that threat for the last few years.

    Even if he is just a depth option after Arne, Anibaba and (when healthy) Gibbs, Berry seems to be a great draft move. Looks like we have an extremely solid backline for the future (Anibaba and Berry for sure, Jumper looked decent as well).

  • In reply to TomazPP:

    That's how I saw the penalty call too. Kind of a case of the rookie getting sucker-punched by the savy veteran with the usual duped concurrence from the referee. A good lesson for the young Berry. From what I've seen of his track record, he won't let the lesson go unlearned.

    I think Berry's earned himself another start.

  • No recap & ratings, Guillermo?

  • In reply to Arklow:

    OK, I'm going skating. I'll look later.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    Coming up in ten minutes.

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