Fire v Whitecaps match preview

The Fire need to get something going offensively and they'll get a good chance to do so against a Vancouver Whitecaps team that is playing their fifth consecutive road game after losing to Toronto FC on Wednesday night.  Unfortunately the club will likely be without midfielder Marco Pappa who missed the last two days of training with a throat infection.  Whether they want to admit it or not, the loss of Sebastian Grazzini has negatively impacted the Fire's consistency in the final third and now playing without Pappa will make creating quality chances even more difficult.

The Whitecaps are having a solid second season in MLS with an 8-5-6 record placing them fourth in the Western Conference.  They've had some scoring issues themselves despite the two goal performance by rookie Darren Mattocks on Wednesday night and recent changes may take some time to gel.  Scottish midfielder Barry Robson is still finding his footing after three games and playmaker Davide Chiumiento was transferred to FC Zurich earlier this week. Now Sebastien LeToux has been traded to the New York Red Bulls in exchange for Dane Richards and allocation money.  Both sides will be in some flux but Martin Rennie typically favors a tactical approach similar to what the Fire have employed recently with two holding midfielders.

How that changes in this match is anyone's guess with LeToux and Chiumiento now out of the picture.  Against Toronto Rennie played Gershon Koffie and Alain Rochat as the holding duo in a 4-2-3-1 but Koffie seems better suited outside and Rochat is a converted defender.  Former Fire John Thorrington has started eight games but he is unsurprisingly on the injured list yet again.

They've been decent enough defensively in front of veteran 'keeper Joe Cannon but they did allow three goals in Toronto.  Jordan Harvey, Jay DeMerit, Martin Bonjour, and Lee Young-Pyo were the starters from left to right.  Rennie will have some juggling to do but so will Frank Klopas without Pappa in the line up.

Klopas doesn't seem concerned with taxing the usual starters with heavy minutes so expect as close to the usual eleven as possible.  Sean Johnson, Austin Berry, Arne Friedrich, and Gonzalo Segares are sure bets but the right back spot may go back to Dan Gargan after Jalil Anibaba got the start last weekend against Los Angeles.

Without Pappa, the midfield options are a little more difficult to predict.  Logan Pause, Pavel Pardo, and Patrick Nyarko are consistently starters but replacing Pappa's ability on the outside will be challenging.  Chris Rolfe could move outside with Alex slotted into the withdrawn role behind Dominic Oduro. The Fire will need to find out sooner rather than later if Alex can capably fill Grazzini's shoes so this should be a good time to get him into the starting unit.


Jose Carlos Rivero

Injury Report

CHICAGO FIRE -- OUT: DF Cory Gibbs (R knee meniscus repair); MF Steven Kinney (R Achilles tendinitis); QUESTIONABLE: MF Marco Pappa (upper respiratory infection)

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC -- OUT: FW Atiba Harris (R knee surgery recovery); FW Omar Salgado (R foot fracture); DOUBTFUL: MF John Thorrington (R quad strain); MF Matt Watson (R ankle sprain)


These two clubs are almost dead even when it comes down to numbers.  The Fire have scored 21 goals while allowing 22 through 18 games.  Vancouver has tallied 21 while giving up 22 through 19 games.  The Whitecaps are a respectable 3-4-3 on the road and the current streak of four consecutive away matches has yielded a 1-2-1 record during that stretch.  The Whitecaps may be running on fumes and the Fire have to capitalize at home with a full week to prepare despite the loss of Pappa for this match.

Fire 1 Whitecaps 0

Another loss or whitewash at home will raise the Grazzini questions again and nobody within the organization will be happy about that.




Filed under: 2012 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • As much as Pappa's midfield roving drives me crazy at times, he's been a spark for us recently and I don't know who can replace that. Now is the time for someone else to step up and make it happen, and not necessarily from the wing - like Alex, Nyarko, Rolfe or Robayo. Or anyone else who cares to make an impact.

  • This will be a good test for Alex to see if he can go a full 90 or something close to it. Generally, when he enters a game he produces a spark for maybe 15/20 minutes but seems to fizzle out later like a sky rocket. Hopefully the defense can hold without a major gaffs.
    Right now I vision a 0-0 tie, but if the offense pushes it up a bit with crisp and accurate passing, we'll manage to pick up 3 points.
    No lazy passes, please!

  • I think there is a greater issue with Klopas' statment of "They have four days to recover, if you can't recover in four days then maybe you should retire,"

    If you were to compare the playing time of the Fire,

    to lets say Norwich,

    or Fulham,

    you will see better utilization of the bench than is currently done with the Fire. Yes the Premiership teams may have a better bench, but the difference is that the coach appears to have enough faith in them to use them. There are role players on the teams that know that is their role and they perform it knowing a starter will go back to it next match or two, that is why you have 20+ on the roster. Even better, they get match experience so that progress can be measured and established so you can better evaluate your needs at the end of and during the season. If Klopas is not comfortable enough to use them, there is a larger problem, and since this is a team of his construction as TD and coach, it is a serious one. The team has shown some improvement, but I still question his man management and evaluation.

    It is a 30 game season, trust in your bench and that faith may be rewarded. You can't step up if not afforded a chance to.

  • In reply to DerSting:

    I generally agree with your observatons. But I think Frank deserves more credit than he gets for his leadership. I'm sure there are better coahes in the MLS and elsewhere, but Frank has stuck up for his guys, has them committed and playing hard, though they have, shown signs of weariness at times.

    But look at the bench and just who those guys are that are really available and not playing. Yes there are two or three I would like to see getting more time, Paladini, Tornaghi, as well as Bone & Vidiera come to mind as guys with little or no recent playing time and the potential to contribute. But I would also be wary of the consequences for the team. Remember! This team was coming together and experiencing success, a rare commodity in recent years. I find it very hard to fault Frank on his player selection when he's been getting results.

    It's a fine line to balance playing time, especially when the team is beginning to gut out some gritty success. I imagine most coaches get criticized over this issue at times. As a fan it's our role to be speculative voyuers, imagining what we might do differently. I do it too. But this is a finer point, one I can idsagree on, but not one I want to complain over.

    I believe Frank is probably as frustrated with management's roster manuevers as we are. But as the coach, he's concerned that his guys don't despair, so he talks positive about the situation. He can help the personnel problems, so he tries to make the best of it. You can pick at his finer points, but overall, I believe he's served this team very well. The real problems are coming from elsewhere and if there isn't a housecleaning by or at the end of this season, it will be too sad.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    I lean more towards your camp on this issue Arklow. The Fire don't have to deal with Champions League, the US Open Cup or anything else but the regular season. I don't have a problem with going with the best eleven a large majority of the time.

  • Not getting ahead of ourselves, what's with the Wednesday (12pm tv time) afternoon game against New York, seems an odd time for a mid-season game not on a weekend.
    If the team starts slipping, I'd would see more of the bench to see if there is anyone worth hanging on to, particularly Bone at $161k which is quite an expense for a bench warmer.
    Last year both Barouch and Paladini had times when they looked sharp, but this year both seemed somewhat out of sync and rusty when they came in. But given the schedule that European teams play, the MLS schedule isn't that tough and the best 11 should be able (barring injury) to be ready for each game.

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