The Fire appear to be catching Sporting Kansas City at a good time. The defending MLS Cup champions will be missing several important players due to international call-up and various injuries. Last year's defender of the year Matt Besler and Graham Zusi (the key to SKC's attack) are both away with the USMNT in preparation for the World Cup. Center back Aurelien Collin injured his hamstring on Wednesday and is expected to miss the match. Making matters worse for Peter Vermes, Collin's replacement Lawrence Olum was called up by Kenya on Thursday ruling him out of this game.
Vermes could be forced to go with 17 year home grown center back Erik Palmer-Brown in his MLS debut but he is also listed as questionable in Sporting's latest injury report. The choices at center back are limited from there with right back Chance Myers and Uri Rosell as potential candidates. Myers is coming off of an injury and Rosell is also listed as questionable.
Frank Yallop will have most of his attacking options at his disposal with Alex and Dilly Duka available for selection after recovering from injuries of their own. One player who won't be in the 18 is Bakary Soumare. Yallop ruled him out for this match during an interview on Fire Weekly this morning.
Projected line ups
Johnson; Cochrane, Iannni, Hurtado, Palmer; Shipp, Larentowicz, Joya, Nyarko; Magee, Amarikwa
Top subs: Segares, Duka, Alex, Anangono
Kronberg; Sinovic, Palmer-Brown, Myers, Juliao; Nagamura, Rosell, Feilhaber; Zizzo, Dwyer, Sapong
Top subs: Bieler, Martinez, Saad
Yallop noted that Segares is still experiencing soreness in his ankle which probably means that Greg Cochrane will continue to start although his last two outings have been less than stellar.
Vermes started 19 year Brazilian right back Igor Juliao on Wednesday night in Philadelphia. He didn't do badly and the back line shuffle will probably see him in the line up again. SKC will have their hands full with Shipp and Nyarko on the outside and Magee and Amarikwa working against potentially inexperienced half backs.
The combinations for SKC will be interesting depending on who is available at kick off.
QUESTIONABLE: Bakary Soumare (L calf tightness)
OUT: Jacob Peterson (illness), Ike Opara (R ankle surgery); QUESTIONABLE: CJ Sapong (neck strain), Aurelien Collin (R hamstring strain), Erik Palmer-Brown (sesamoiditis R foot), Uri Rosell (R quad strain)
This seems too easy, right?
The Fire need to press early and grab the lead to avoid the trap.
Fire 2 Sporting KC 1
The rest of the league
Toronto FC 2 New York 2
Philadelphia 1 New England 2
DC United 1 Montreal 0
FC Dallas 3 Chivas USA 2
Houston 1 Los Angeles 1
Real Salt Lake 2 Colorado 0
Seattle 2 San Jose 1
Portland 2 Columbus 0
Record 35 of 93
US Open Cup round 4
The Fire will face either local amateur club RWB Adria or Collins John and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in round 4 of this year's US Open Cup tournament. The match will take place at Toyota Park on either June 11 or June 18 depending on the winner of the third round game.
Jeff Crandall breaks down the draw process here.