Fire vs. FC Dallas: Match Preview

The undefeated Chicago Fire, only a day removed from their thrilling 3-2 stoppage time win over Chivas USA, must now return home and switch their focus to FC Dallas, whom they will square off against Sunday at Toyota Park.

The first place Fire will be coming into the match riding a 3 game win streak and will look to continue their good form against a woeful Dallas team.  The Fire have already defeated FCD this year, beating the Texas side 3-1 in the season opener.

The Fire will be without midfielder Cuauhtemoc Blanco for Sunday’s battle for the Brimstone Cup.  Blanco scored 2 goals in the win over Chivas USA on Thursday night, both from the penalty spot.  Blanco will miss the match due to international duty; he reported to training camp with the Mexican National Team today and he will miss Sunday’s match as well as next Friday’s game against the Houston Dynamo.

Here are a few questions I have heading into Sunday’s match.
Will the Fire be able to put together a complete, convincing win?
Despite winning their last three, the Fire have done so (especially in the last two games) playing at a level that is certainly below their best.  Although the results have been great, I hope (and somewhat expect) to see the Fire really come out and dominate a weak Dallas side right from the start.  I would like to see some better, quicker passing and cleaner, tighter defending from the Fire than what was on display against Chivas USA Thursday night.

How will the Fire replace Cuauhtemoc Blanco?
I expect Patrick Nyarko to return to the starting lineup in place of the Mexican international, but who knows if Head Coach Denis Hamlett will have a trick up his sleeve? Another possibility would be to insert Justin Mapp into the midfield and put Chris Rolfe into Blanco’s forward spot.

Will Bakary Soumare be able to get back on track?
The Fire center back has had a rough stretch as of late, playing a tough game at the New York Red Bulls and giving up a pretty unnecessary PK to Chivas USA last night.  His week will likely get no easier, as Dallas forward Kenny Cooper will be coming to town on Sunday.  Cooper has scored four goals on the season (including a 60 yard wonder strike against the Fire) and if he is provided with any type of service, could cause some problems for the Fire defense.

Will anyone show up?
The Fire have struggled with attendance thus far this season, only averaging 10,998 fans per game in MLS play.  With a low-profile team like FC Dallas coming into town, I’m not too optimistic that too many more fans will show up on Sunday.

On another note, I will be at the match on Sunday, and I’m excited as it’s the first game I’m covering (in person at least) for Chicago Fire Confidential.  So look for a little more than my game analysis, as I’ll actually be talking to the Fire players and coaches this time around.


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  • Nice to meet you, Sam & folks on this blog. Coming over from Luis' and can't stand Ives, so it's nice to have a place to comment after 2 weeks of withdrawl.

    That being said, I'm rather opinionated, so please don't take personal offense if I'm comparing your opinion to something that would come out the back end of Kenny Cooper. It's not a reflection of you - just the opinion. If I think your stupid, I'll say so :)

    That being said... Sam, you had some questions:

    1) Why does a convincing win matter? To sway critics? To give confidence? Who really cares if a win is convincing as long as its a win? 5-0-6 is only 3 points off the top of the table with the Fire getting a W over the top team. They don't need to prove anything to anyone.

    2) If history repeats itself, the Hamster tends to shift Pappa into the Blanco role and after Mapp's performance against Chivas, I don't see a start in his future. Personally I like Mike Banner into the Winger slot where Pappa usually starts, starting Nyarko, and bringing in Rolfe about the 60th. [I know folks think Rolfe should start, but think about how effective Rolfe has been coming off the bench for Nyarko after Nyarko wears down the defense with that speed of his].

    3) Let's face it - Soumare needs to ride the pine for a game or two. His play has been terrible all year and there is no reason to believe it will magically improve for this game. Let CJ take his place since they're battling FCD or better yet, switch to a 3-5-2 or 3-4-3.

    4) If I didn't live 1300 miles away, I'd be there.

  • Nice to meet you too, Graeme. Glad you made the jump, and glad to see you've brought your strong opinions with you.

    Jimmy Greenfield
    Sports Community Manager

  • it should be a great day. love afternoon games. without blanco im looking for speed, let the young men play the game. guess you'll be in the media boxes on the west side of tp. seen a game or two from there, great seats if the weathers nice. dont miss the tailgating. have a great time. i try to stop by practice once in a while, ill say hi.

  • I really think Mapp plays better with out Blanco as they like to operate in the same space. I am hoping with Blanco out we can play a proper 2 striker formation.

  • I expect this formation:


  • i agree, time for a break out game... 4-zip

  • I think the crowd will ache as well. But I can't wait to get there.

    And as for Graeme's 'Why' question. I want a decisive victory to prove to me, someone who will be at TP every game no matter what that they're a team I can really pour my hopes into and look to win a championship this year.

  • @ NaperSteve: Well obviously by now we all know the game was a royal bust. But I have to say this as a fan since the beginning - you should be putting in your hopes for a championship every year with every team. Love that you're at the Park for every game, but the reality is that a 3-0 loss to FC Dallas, though frustrating, is not going to change any hope for a SS, a USOC, a Championship, and a good run into the Champion's League for me because it's simply just 1 game in the second third of the season. What you do is your biz and if you want to bandwagon it, then that's your right, but that's not for me.

    If I get to TP this year I'll buy the first round with you though.

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