Hans Backe will make the trip to Chicago but New York’s two designated players will not. Both Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez did not travel with the team and will miss this match. That seems to be a bit of a break for the Fire, who are in need of a win at home after two consecutive losses on the road to Eastern Conference rivals Columbus and New England. With Henry the Red Bulls attack is one of the most dangerous in MLS, without him they shift to a single forward alignment and have improved greatly on the defensive end over the last month and a half.
Rookie goalkeeper Ryan Meara has played well recently and their back line has seems to have improved after a rash of injuries knocked out most of the starters. The current unit in front of Meara should include former FC Dallas defender Heath Pearce, Wilman Conde, Markus Holgersson, and Brandon Barklage from left to right. Conde has suffered through injuries and off-field issues since joining the Red Bulls but finally appears to be healthy.
Dax McCarty has settled into the holding role with Marquez pushed back to a central spot and Teemu Tainio in the midst of a long injury absence. Backe has moved Jan Gunner Solli up into midfield with Barklage taking over at right back so he could still be in the starting eleven if Dane Richards is not on the right side. Joel Lindpere, who has done considerable damage to the Fire in past encounters should be the starter on the left side. Mehdi Ballouchy is likely to fill the advanced attacking role behind Fire killer Kenny Cooper. Victor Palsson has been a starting option in midfield as well.
The Fire have hopefully used a two week break to recover from the losses to Columbus, New England, and the Michigan Bucks in US Upen Cup play (where the Red Bulls were eliminated by a lower level side as well). The back line probably won’t be any different than it was in the last match since Arne Friedrich is probably one more week away from being fully fit. Friedrich practiced this week but the club will probably play it safe with the World Cup veteran. Sean Johnson, Gonzalo Segares, Jalil Anibaba, Austin Berry, and Dan Gargan will surely be the first choice defenders for this one.
Marco Pappa has re-joined the team after a stint with the Guatemalan National team and will probably be a game time decision for a starting spot. Pappa was at training on Friday after flying back to Chicago on Thursday. Klopas opted for a two striker formation against the Revolution without Pappa available and he could utilize that tactic again versus New York if Pappa doesn’t start. Pavel Pardo, Logan Pause, Sebastian Grazzini, and Patrick Nyarko all should be fit and ready to go.
Dominic Oduro says the hamstring problem that has hindered him a bit over the last several weeks is no longer an issue and he should pose some problems for Conde and Holgersson who can be beaten on the ground. Orr Barouch, who got a start against New England but struggled to maintain possession may still be an option here since Chris Rolfe is not quite ready to start. Rolfe trained all week and his fitness may not be 90 minutes strong yet but expect him to make an appearance in this match since he always seems to do well against New York. The Fire’s Designated Player should be fourth on the depth chart behind Oduro, Rolfe, and Barouch at the forward position.
CHICAGO FIRE — OUT: DF Cory Gibbs (R knee meniscus repair); MF Steven Kinney (R Achilles tendinitis); QUESTIONABLE: DF Arne Friedrich (R hamstring strain)
NEW YORK RED BULLS — OUT: MF Teemu Tainio (R knee sprain); FW Jose Angulo (R knee sprain); FW Thierry Henry (R calf strain); MF Rafa Marquez (R thigh contusion)
Cooper and Lindpere seem to always score against the Fire and they’ll be the focus of the New York attack in this match. New York is 5-0-1 in their last six matches and 8 points ahead of the Fire in the Eastern Conference table. The Fire on the other hand must protect their home turf if they are to make any noise in the East.
Fire 1 Red Bulls 1