In what has been a mantra for the Fire during the second half of the 2013 season, the club faces another “must win” game against Eastern Conference rival Columbus Crew, in a game that has playoff race implications on both sides.
Columbus currently sits in 8th in the East with 35 points, and could inch closer to the final playoff spot with an upset over Chicago in their final meeting of the regular season. The Fire, in 5th place with 39 points, need a win and full points to keep pace with Houston and Philadelphia. Philadelphia has a bye this week, but Houston faces a likely win against a floundering Chivas USA side. Additionally, New England, currently in 7th but only 2 points out of the hunt, faces DC United, wooden spoon holders of the league with just 3 wins.
The final matchup between the two clubs this season is full of storylines coming in. Columbus broke a club record losing streak with their defeat of Montreal Impact at Saputo Stadium last weekend, while Chicago edged out New England Revolution at home in a controversial game on both sides. Dilly Duka and Dominic Oduro again face their former teams, although it’s likely the luster of going up against their former clubs has probably faded a bit this deep into their respective campaigns.
Interim head coach Brian Bliss made four lineup changes against Montreal, and it’s likely he’ll trot out a similar lineup against Chicago. On the other side, Frank Klopas will send out a similar lineup to the one that faced New England in last weekend’s 3-2 win.
Johnson; Segares, Soumare, Berry, Anibaba; Duka, Larentowicz, Rios, Nyarko; Anangono, Magee
Lampson; Barson, Marshall, Wahl, Viana; Trapp, Oduro, Tchani, Anor; Higuain, Arrieta
Look for a key matchup between Higuain and Arevalo Rios, as Rios will likely sit back in a more defensive position, allowing Larentowicz to push forward as they’ve done since the Uruguayan’s arrival. Dominic Oduro believes the Columbus attack will have success against Chicago’s backline, so the Fire will no doubt have extra motivation for shutting down Columbus offensively for the 4th time this season across all competitions.
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