The last time these two clubs met on March 23rd both were in the throws of early season struggles with nary a win between them. Things have changed since then for one of the teams. New York has gone on to a 3-1-3 record since the 1-1 draw at Toyota Park. The Fire on the other hand are still winless after sporting a 0-1-4 mark since that match.
Some of the pieces have been shuffled around in New York but the biggest improvement has come due to the success of Thierry Henry's partnership with Bradley Wright-Phillips on the attacking side. Wright-Phillips is on a roll of late and leads the team with six goals scored. Loyd Sam is also among league leaders with four assists on the season.
Frank Yallop threatened some changes in the starting line up after the collapse against Real Salt Lake and it appears there will be some alterations made to the back line. Gonzalo Segares has trained in full over the last two weeks and is expected to reclaim his starting spot at left back. Greg Cochrane has played well in his absence but he was overrun in the second half of the RSL game and that may be enough of an opening for the veteran to step back in.
Bakary Soumare left training on Thursday with a migraine but indications are that Yallop is going to give Patrick Ianni a shot at center back. Soumare has played well at times this season but has made several gaffes leading directly to goals. Yallop has shown that he won't hesitate to pull the trigger on a change after bad performances and that may be the case here.
OUT: Marius Obekop
Projected line ups
Johnson; Segares, Ianni, Hurtado, Palmer; Nyarko, Larentowicz, Joya, Shipp; Magee, Amarikwa
top subs: Anangono, Cochrane, Duka, Pineda
Robles; Kimura, Olave, Armando, Miller; Sam, McCarty, Cahill, Alexander; Henry, Wright-Phillips
top subs: Luyindula, Steele, Sekagya
The Fire will have Quincy Amarikwa back and Dilly Duka should be available on the bench. The attack should be able to continue to create chances but will the newly shuffled back line prove to be an upgrade over the unit that has failed to record a clean sheet this season?
Alex is not on the injury report but Yallop indicated that he wasn't fully fit yet. He trained on the side yesterday and you can expect Benji Joya to get another crack at central midfield.
New York 2 Fire 1
The rest of the league
After a 3-0 Wednesday night I've upped my record to a still brutal 33-50.
Philadelphia 2 DC United 1
Montreal 1 Sporting KC 1
Columbus 1 Vancouver 1
San Jose 2 FC Dallas 1
Portland 1 Los Angeles 1
Colorado 2 Chivas USA 0
New England 1 Seattle 2
Houston 1 Real Salt Lake 1
Cuauhtemoc Blanco is 41 years old but he's still playing. After talking about retiring off and on for the last two seasons, the former Fire forward is back in Mexico's top flight. He signed with Liga MX's Puebla today. That is the same club which DaMarcus Beasley currently calls home.
Incidentally, Beasley is reportedly considering a move back to MLS.