Fire v Red Bulls match preview

Win and you're in.

If only it was that easy. If earlier results don't go their way the Fire will need to earn a result against the Eastern Conference's top team. With every Eastern Conference match completed before the end of the Fire-New York game, we'll know by half time whether the Fire have clinched a post season spot or whether there is a chance that the 2013 campaign ends on Sunday.

The Columbus Crew could end up doing Chicago a huge favor by either beating or drawing the New England Revolution. A NE loss/draw will put the Fire into the playoffs. Feeling the importance of the match and looking for every advantage possible, Revolution ownership chartered a flight to Ohio for the team. When the margin of victory is so slim in a league based on parity, every little bit counts.

Update: The Fire are chartering a flight home from New York after this match. A good move considering the potential short turn around for a possible play in game. Of course they need to get in first.

Projected line ups

Fire

Johnson; Segares, Berry, Soumare, Anibaba; Duka, Alex, Rios, Nyarko; Magee, Anangono

New York

Robles; Barklage, Olave, Sekagya, Holgersson; Steele, Luyindula, McCarty, Alexander; Cahill, Henry

The question for the Fire will be, who takes over for Jeff Larentowicz in central midfield? Alex seems to be the logical choice since he's played well in spots there, particularly while teaming with Larentowicz. Frank Klopas' other leading option would be Logan Pause. Given New York's potential for offensive firepower with Cahill, Henry, and possibly Espindola in the line-up, Klopas may choose to play it tight on the road with Pause but the downside is the loss of a threat from the middle of the pitch. That was the case against Montreal last month when Pause and Rios started together. The Fire were flat offensively in the first half of that game (literally and figuratively) and changes had to be made at the half to jump start the team.

The Red Bulls can claim the club's first ever significant hardware if they win this game. They'll likely need the full three points in order to wrap up the Supporter's Shield. Tim Cahill has scored big goals for New York all season and he's given the freedom to roam on the pitch. Mike Petke has utilized him in both his more customary central midfield position and as a second striker as he did last week against Houston.  Fabian Espindola or Bradley Wright-Phillips can also work their way into the eleven if Cahill is pushed back into midfield.

One thing to look out for will be the battle on the left side of New York's defense. Both first and second choice starting left backs Roy Miller and David Carney may not be available for the second straight week. Petke has moved Brandon Barklage over from the right side and he will have his hands full trying to contain Patrick Nyarko.

Referee

Ismail Elfath

Prediction

With DC v Houston kicking off at 12:30 cdt and Columbus v New England starting one hour before the Fire game starts we should know by half time what needs to be done. Philadelphia v Sporting and Toronto v Montreal on Saturday will also be of interest for Chicago. While MLS and the national media are busy patting the Red Bulls on the back for a possible Supporter's Shield title, let's not forget the Fire have forged the best record in MLS since June 1.

Fire 2 New York 2

The rest of the league

Philadelphia 0 Sporting KC 1

Toronto 1 Montreal 1

San Jose 2 FC Dallas 1

Chivas USA 1 Portland 3

DC United 1 Houston 2

Columbus 3 New England 2

Vancouver 1 Colorado 1

Seattle 1 Los Angeles 1

Season record 148/314

Playoffs?

If those picks hold true the Fire would end up travelling to Montreal for the "play-in" game. If all other results come through and Houston draws in DC, the Fire would end up hosting....Houston.

It would also mean that Sporting KC wins the Supporter's Shield with a one point advantage over New York and Portland.

This weekend will be fun to watch regardless of what happens.

Filed under: 2013 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire

Comments

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  • This is great stuff, a huge weekend in MLS. Seems almost every game has playoff implications.

    I'm actually really looking forward to seeing how the Rios/Alex combo works out. I think it'll be an effective tandem.

    First time in a long time - that I can remember - that you haven't picked the Fire to win. Thankfully your record speaks for itself and it's no guarantee as to what the result will be! ;)

  • In reply to Drew:

    Hey gimme a break....picking MLS games is hard. ;)

  • The Fire are chartering a flight from New York this weekend. Good move.

  • Phi-KC KC
    Tor-Mtl Tor
    SJ-Dal SJ
    Chv-Por Por
    DC-Hou TIE
    Clb-NE NE
    NY-Chi TIE (by the skin of our teeth, if we pull it off)
    Van-Col Van
    Sea-LA TIE

    If we tie (or win,) I'm guessing it will be that controversial call the ref makes or goal-not-from-the-usual-suspects or the Fire prove to truly be on a hot streak at the right time. I sincerely hope for the latter.

    Somewhat mostly season record - 85-122

  • I'm excited about seeing Alex and Rios in the middle. I think that that will give NYRB fits the entire game with Alex able to control the ball and Rios taking it at will from NYRB mids and forwards. It will be interesting to see how Soumare and Berry hold up against Tim Cahill. That guy is just about as crazy as Baky is. There could be some fireworks in the box. I predict Cahill gets a yellow in the first 15 minutes for throwing an elbow at Baky because Baky is the only guy in the league who will stand up to his physical play.

  • watched the K.C-Phil game. I can't figure out how we lost to these teams. The Fire are better than both

  • Thank you, thank you to SKC & Toronto!

  • In reply to Arklow:

    The SKC-Philly game didn't have an impact for the Fire. If Philly had won and we lose tomorrow, we would still be ahead of Philly by virtue of our wins (even though we would have been equal on points),.

  • I'm not sure whether I'm more excited that if we win today we're a) in the playoffs or b) keep NY from getting a piece of hardware. Both are so sweet.

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