Here we go again.
It's the Fire versus Columbus for the third time this season. The first encounter on April 20 was won by Chicago in what was arguably the Fire's best overall game of the season up to that point. The second match, just over a week ago in the US Open Cup tournament was also won by Chicago by a score of 2-1.
Columbus was without a handful of key players for the USOC match but they will have their best defender, Chad Marshall back for this one along with Josh Williams. Neither one was available in Chicago on June 13 but both players started in the middle of Robert Warzycha's back line in a 2-0 surprise victory over the conference leading Montreal Impact last Saturday. They'll also have forward Jairo Arrieta back with the side after missing the last few weeks away with the Costa Rican national team.
Frank Klopas will have the upcoming midweek USOC game against Orlando City to consider when filling out a starting eleven so it's possible that we could see some squad rotation rather than the top choice squad he seems to have settled on recently. Logan Pause, Daniel Paladini, Joel Lindpere, and Sherjill MacDonald are all players that could get a starting call depending on how Wednesday's starters are feeling.
The big question is whether Mike Magee is recovered enough to go a full a ninety after leaving in the 75th minute of the match against Colorado. Magee took an inadvertent knee from Austin Berry in the first half of that game and he was subbed out as the muscles affected began to tighten up. Neither Klopas nor Magee felt the injury was serious in post game interviews but they'll need to weigh if pushing him back into action three days later will pose any long term risk, especially with an tournament game coming up.
Projected line ups
Johnson; Segares, Soumare, Berry, Anibaba; Duka, Larentowicz, Alex, Nyarko; Rolfe, Magee
Gruenebaum; Barson, Marshall, Williams, Wahl; Sanchez, O'Rourke; Anor, Higuain, Speas; Oduro
Klopas may stick with most of his regulars and lean towards Pause, Paladini, and Santos on Wednesday against USLPro side Orlando City. Duka and Lindpere on the left is probably a toss up decision for Saturday although I could see Duka getting a call against his former club. Lindpere isn't going to be effective as a late substitution so they have to find a way to get something out of him. The Fire also aren't very deep in defense so the four starters in back may be asked to log some heavy minutes in the next few days.
Warzycha will probably stick with the line up he had success with against Montreal and there's no reason to change it considering the Crew aren't very deep in a variety of areas. Arrieta is back but it seems Warzycha is looking to bring him off the bench right now.
OUT: Arne Friedrich (hip tightness). Steven Kinney (R quad strain)
OUT: Drew Beckie (L abductor strain), Ryan Finley (R ankle sprain), Eddie Gaven (L acl rupture), Glauber (L acl rupture), Kyle Hyland (L abductor strain); QUESTIONABLE: Augustin Viana (R hamstring strain)
It's difficult to beat a team three consecutive times but Chicago seems to have the Crew's number. A win here will not only extend the Fire's unbeaten run in all competitions to seven but it will also pull the Fire to within 2 points of Columbus for the 7 spot in the East.
Fire 1 Crew 1
The rest of the league
DC 1 San Jose 1
FC Dallas 1 Sporting KC 1
Houston 1 Toronto FC 0
Real Salt Lake 2 Seattle 1
Philadelphia 1 New York 1
Portland 2 Colorado 0
Chivas USA 1 Los Angeles 2
Record to date 67/142