A lot of the attention going into this match will be focused on Chivas USA coach José Luis Sánchez Solá, better known as El Chelís in football circles. The quotable and entertaining Chivas boss has brought a rare flair into MLS as a character that has certainly added some much needed color into the relatively bland landscape of American soccer. Looking beyond the litany of odd analogies and possibly unintentionally humorous quotes, El Chelís has done a good job early in this campaign of getting all that he can out of a roster that had the potential to finish at the bottom of the table in MLS.
With four points in their first three matches, Chivas USA has been downright respectable and much better than most observers believed they could be. Much of that success is credited to the hustle and hard work which players have exhibited in those three contests, the latest of which was a 1-1 draw while playing a man down for 50 minutes against the Los Angeles Galaxy. The Fire can expect Chivas forwards and midfielders to attempt to pressure the back line into mistakes. A hectic style of defending and pressuring has been evident in their first three matches but Chelís has tinkered with the line-up and even his formations throughout those games.
While it seems that a 3-4-3 is the main line-up of choice for Chivas, they've actually played out of a few different alignments over the course of the first three games. If they maintain a three man back line it may be possible for Patrick Nyarko to be more involved than he has been up to this point. This would be a good thing for Chicago. Nyarko has been uncharacteristically quiet throughout much of the Fire's 270 minutes of action in 2013 and needs to be more involved in creating scoring chances for the Fire to be successful.
Chivas USA has four players on the roster on loan from "Big" Chivas in Julio Morales, Giovani Casillas, Edgar Mejia, and Mario de Luna but that's no guarantee that each of them are automatic starters under Chelis' rotation pattern. Only Dan Kennedy, Mejia, de Luna, and center defender Joaquin Velazquez have started every match making them somewhat difficult to prepare for. As the season progresses and clubs have a chance to scout and resolve some of the unknown challenges that these "Goats" will present, the going will get tougher for Chelís and the sideshow may become less endearing but for now they should not be taken lightly.
The Fire are expecting a direct style of play with long balls into their attackers as they displayed in a 3-1 win over FC Dallas and Chelís is on record as saying he would rather lose 5-4 than win 1-0 while playing conservatively so it's possible that the Fire will have considerably more opportunities than they have in each of their first three scoreless games. With an off week looming in round 5 and a chance to get defenders healthy before the next match Chicago can't afford to drop more points at home. Even if it is early in the season.
Projected Line Ups
GK Dan Kennedy
D Bobby Burling, Joaquin Velazquez, Mario de Luna
M Josue Soto, Oswaldo Minda, Edgar Mejia, Eric Avila
F Tristan Bowen, Juan Agudelo, Jose Correa
GK Paolo Tornaghi
D Gonzalo Segares, Austin Berry, Jalil Anibaba, Wells Thompson
M Alex, Jeff Larentowicz, Daniel Paladini, Patrick Nyarko
F Chris Rolfe, Sherjill MacDonald
With Klopas still seemingly unsure if Logan Pause is ready to go 90, the task at right back may fall to Wells Thompson after injuries to Steven Kinney and Mike Videira which will keep them out of this game. Paladini played well in Kansas City and should get another shot in place of Joel Lindpere, who is with Estonia for World Cup qualifiers. Duka is now listed as questionable so Klopas has the option of Alex or rookie Yazid Atouba on the left side if Duka is unavailable.
Chivas USA: OUT- Walter Vilchez (L knee MCL sprain)
Chicago: OUT - Arne Friedrich (R hamstring tightness), Michael Videira (Concussion), Victor Pineda (Meniscus repair); QUESTIONABLE - Steven Kinney (R quad strain), Dilly Duka (L hamstring tightness)
Fire 2 Chivas USA 0
This is a perfect opportunity for the Fire to finally get on the board in 2013. Chivas USA has played all three of their games in Los Angeles and traveled Mexico for a friendly against Guadalajara on Wednesday afternoon. Mostly bench players saw action in that match but travelling in MLS is a big factor that often goes unnoticed.
The rest of the league
Columbus 1 DC 2
Sporting KC 1 New England 1
New York 1 Montreal 2
Vancouver 1 Houston 1
Real Salt Lake 0 FC Dallas 1
Colorado 0 Los Angeles 2
Seattle 1 San Jose 1
Season record: 13/26