Bakary Soumare will be back in Chicago but it won't be in the manner it seemed it would be 10 days ago. The former Fire defender is likely to make his second MLS appearance for Philadelphia versus the team that he made his only Union start against. His old club, the Chicago Fire.
Soumare said the Union and Fire had engaged in talks for a trade last week but now it seems unlikely that a deal will be consummated any time soon. The Fire are hard pressed to make Soumare's salary fit under the budget and the Union are now in need of his services due to an injury to centerback Jeff Parke.
The Fire had a bye week last weekend so they've had some time to reflect on another loss and the current 2-5-1 record that has them planted in 8th place in the East. The May 6 primary transfer window closing date came and went with no new additions so it seems that this will be the group that Frank Klopas relies on until the next opportunity to make significant additions in July. Of course, trades can still happen within the league and the Fire can position themselves to make something happen if the deal for Robbie Rogers' rights can be ironed out before then.
At 3-3-3 the Union have been good enough to stay close to the top 5 in the East but they don't arrive without issues either. Sheanon Williams had started every game at right back this season but his red card against Seattle leaves him out of this one. If Soumare starts as expected he'll be playing in his first regular season game in over 8 months. Coach John Hackworth is also still trying to find his best combination in midfield with 33 year old Brazilian Kleberson still sitting on the bench after joining the club in late March. Philadelphia is entering a stretch of 3 games in 8 days so Hackworth may work Antoine Hoppenot and Sebastien LeToux into the lineup as well.
The Fire will get Wells Thompson back after serving a one game suspension which means Logan Pause can return to central midfield. Moving him out of that spot against Montreal may not have been the best of decisions but he's back where he should have been two weeks ago. He'll more than likely be paired with Daniel Paladini since Jeff Larentowicz is now facing a one game ban for being shown a dubious red card against the Impact.
Projected Line Ups
Zac MacMath; Raymon Gaddis, Bakary Soumare, Amobi Okugo, Gabriel Farfan; Brian Carroll, Keon Daniel, Michael Farfan, Danny Cruz; Jack McInerney, Conor Casey
Sean Johnson; Gonzalo Segares, Austin Berry, Jalil Anibaba, Wells Thompson; Logan Pause, Daniel Paladini, Patrick Nyarko, Joel Lindpere; Chris Rolfe, Sherjill MacDonald
OUT: none ; QUESTIONABLE: Danny Cruz (illness), Jeff Parke (L hamstring strain), Michael Lahoud (lower abdomen strain), Aaron Wheeler (L knee contusion)
OUT: Steven Kinney (R quad), Arne Friedrich (L hamstring); QUESTIONABLE: Hunter Jumper (R groin strain), Victor Pineda (R ankle sprain)
The combination of two new defenders and a shaky goalkeeper in MacMath should provide the Fire an opportunity to create chances. Chicago looked better offensively in the last two home matches but finishing as always remains an issue. MacMath is prone to the occasional howler so I expect Berry and Anibaba will be involved in the mix if Philadelphia struggles on set pieces. I also believe the Fire will have a favorable match-up with M. Farfan and Gaddis going up against Patrick Nyarko on the right side of the home team attack.
The Fire are prone to the occasional lax moment on defense themselves and they'll be tested by McInerney, who has scored six times this year and Conor Casey whose main role is generating flick ons and second ball chances for teammates. Note that the Fire have been particularly bad at defending second balls for most of the season.
The importance of winning at home in MLS can't be mentioned enough. Take care of business at home and that should be sufficient to keep you in the running for a playoff spot. The Fire can't afford many more slip ups at 2-5-1 after already having suffered two losses at Toyota Park.
Fire 2 Union 1
The rest of the league
Montreal 2 Real Salt Lake 1
Seattle 1 San Jose 0
Vancouver 1 Los Angeles 1
Columbus 1 Colorado 0
New England 2 New York 2
FC Dallas 2 DC United 0
Portland 2 Chivas USA 1
Houston 2 Sporting KC 2
Season record 40/91