Here are a few more notes going into a must win game if the Fire are going to push Sporting Kansas City for the top spot in the East....
Segares out but not down
Left back Gonzalo Segares will miss tonight's match after being shown two yellow cards on Friday night. The Costa Rican defender looked back on the Kansas City game after training yesterday and felt that the team should have started out better than they did in the first half. "I thougt it was a very physical game. In the first half I thought we were a little bit naive and didn't come out with the same intensity Kansas City had but we definitely changed our mentallity in the second half," said Segares.
The Fire were expecting high pressure tactics from the home team but had a hard time matching the pace of the game early on. "We knew in the beginning that they were going to come at us pretty hard. They're a team that pressures really high but at the same time we knew that it was going to be difficult to keep that up for ninety minutes. Once we got settled we were able to find more space and play the ball better. That's what happended in the first half, we just weren't able to do that and that made the difference in the second. We know we can play against them and we'll be ready for the next time," Segares continued.
The tables turned after the intermission when adjustments were made by the coaching staff. "Frank told us at halftime that we had to raise up the intensity and we weren't matching theirs," said Segares. "We saw the change when we stepped a little bit higher and put them under pressure. We put them back on their heels and had a couple of counters that were pretty dangerous. Definitely the mentally changed. In the first half we weren't winning 50/50 balls and in the second half we did," he said. "The way this whole season's gone we've learned from our mistakes and we definitely know what to expect the next time against Kansas City".
Without commenting on the officiating, Segares did say he wasn't particulary happy with the call that led to his expulsion in that match and subsequently a seat against Philadelphia. "I was a bit disappointed because I thought that play was not even a foul and a even less a yellow card but things like that happen and you just have to deal with it," he said diplomatically.
Looking ahead to the Philadelphia Union the veteran defender believes the team is focused on this game with another big match up ahead of them on Saturday in New York. "We cannot take anyone lightly. We're frustrated from what happened on Friday and everybody's pretty excited to get on the field. After a game like that the best thing that can happen is to get back on the field as soon as possible. We're playing at home in front of our fans and celebrating 15 years. We win and we're two points behind Kansas City again with three games left, so there's a lot on the line," said Segares.
Klopas focused on Philadelphia
Frank Klopas wasn't concerned with the prospect of overlooking the Union with another big game on the horizon this weekend. He told media after practice that every game in MLS should be be considered a dangerous one. "It could be a trap game if you underestimate your opponent but that's the same with any game," said Klopas. "They (Philadelphia) do have a lot to play for because guys are playing for their future and for next year, so there's a lot on the line. We're not going into the game underestimating any opponent. In this league anybody can beat anyone," said the gaffer. "We need to come out with confidence and press the game from the begining expecting it's going to be a difficult match. Regardless of how it's gone for them it's going to be a difficult match," said Klopas.
Klopas also believes the team has recovered from the loss in Kansas City and is ready to resume the form that has made them succesful this season. "We haven't been down the whole season. We've lost games before and it's about moving on. We weren't going to go undefeated, we talked about that," said Klopas. "We went down and we competed in the second half regardless of the second goal late in the game I think we pushed the game. We played against a good team but this is what the playoffs are going to come to. Guys got some good experience in that game and I think that's going to help us get better," continued Klopas.
"We've moved on from that one and we've done that the whole year as a team. Our focus is on the next opponent," said Klopas.
Pavel Pardo did not participate in full training and will miss this match. His status is "day to day" but the Fire won't rush his return with the playoffs in sight and Alex playing reasonably well in his absence.
- The referee for this match will be Abbey Okulaja
- Limited tickets are still available for the Fire Anniversary event on Monday night. Click here for more info.
- Expect Dan Gargan to get the start at left back in place of Segares.
- The Union are missing several key players for this match.
- I'm going with 2-0 Fire in this one.