The Fire will almost certainly be in direct competition in the later stages of this season with the Columbus Crew for one of the five Eastern Conference playoff berths so the importance of this match shouldn't be understated. Columbus has played well enough (although somewhat unspectacularly) to begin the season at 2-1-3 and have gone four matches without a defeat. The Fire have played better recently with a win in New York and a tough loss in Houston.
This should be a hard fought match as the Fire need to win home games in order to avoid falling too far behind the contenders in the East.
Projected Line Ups
Johnson; Segares, Anibaba, Berry, Thompson; Pause, Larentowicz; Lindpere, Rolfe, Paladini; MacDonald
Gruenebaum; Wahl, Glauber, Marshall, Williams; Viana, O'Rourke; Speas, Higuain, Gaven; Oduro
Robert Warzycha seems to have settled on a set line-up with Oduro moving from the wing to the front runner ahead of Higuain. Oduro has replaced Jairo Arrieta, at least for now as the Crew's starting striker and he's delivered in the last two matches. The Fire know him well and should be familiar with the best techniques for defending against him. (Hint - stay in front of him)
Without Friedrich available again the Berry/Anibaba pairing will be tested on set pieces where Higuain and Marshall excel. Steven Kinney is out yet again with a quad injury so the right back spot probably belongs to Wells Thompson for another week. The only variable in the line up could be a starting position for Patrick Nyarko. That could move Daniel Paladini, who's played very well to the bench.
Fire: QUESTIONABLE - Steven Kinney (R quad)
Arne Friedrich isn't listed but he's not available.
Crew: OUT - Aaron Horton (L knee)
Columbus is off to a decent start at 2-1-3 and both victories have come on the road (at Chivas and DC). The Fire absolutely need to start winning consistently at home where they've lost twice already this year to clubs with less talent than this one.
Fire 2 Crew 1
The rest of the league
Houston 1 Toronto FC 1
Seattle 2 Colorado 1
New England 0 New York 2
Vancouver 1 FC Dallas 2
Chivas USA 0 Real Salt Lake 2
Sporting KC 1 Los Angeles 1
Philadelphia 0 DC United 1
Portland 1 San Jose 2
Season Record 27/59