Friday, July 1, 2011
Fire set for struggling Chivas
By Charlie Corr
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The Chicago Fire open a west coast swing when they battle Chivas USA this Saturday at The Home Depot Center.
The Fire and Chivas have their share of differences, but the big similarity is that each side has 17 points and is toward the bottom of their respective conferences. Chicago is tied for seventh in the East and Chivas is eighth in the West.
Chivas (4-7-5) has lost three straight, but in two of those matches the Goats could not hang on to one-goal leads. Whether Chivas is completely at fault with defensive lapses, or its opponents are simply out-performing the Goats in these moments, this is something Chicago (2-4-11) is hoping to take advantage of.
"It's a combination of both," Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas said of Chivas' recent blunders. "They make mistakes, but they've gotten better with that. If anything, they've got new players, and it takes a while for them to jell together. It's just a matter of a mistake where we've got to be in a position where we make them pay."
While Chivas has not established consistency this year, the Goats certainly have shown that they can score some goals and possess the ball. Chivas first-year head coach Robin Fraser's side has five multi-goal games this year, whereas the Fire have not posted a multi-goal game since a 2-2 draw against the San Jose Earthquakes on May 28.
"They're a well-organized, well-coached team, and they rely more on their buildup," Klopas said. "They have some dynamic players in the final third. They're more of a possession-oriented team, and they build play through their possession. They have a big field and work well without the ball. We need to be in a position where we help out, but also commit forward and make sure we have numerical superiority."
Chivas is in the midst of its worst performance stretch this year, allowing seven goals during its three-game losing streak. The Fire's offense, however, is tied for the third-worst output of goals with 18. The Fire have scored only three goals in their past six games during Klopas' tenure. The likes of Marco Pappa, Dominic Oduro and Diego Chaves will need to pick up their game in the scoring department.
"It's not just one player -- we have guys who can play their roles," Klopas said. "The guys are confident that they will get their opportunities."
The Fire defense has been integral toward the team's 1-0-5 record under Klopas. Defensive midfielder and captain Logan Pause returns from his concussion injury, and the timing could not be better as midfielder Daniel Paladini has to miss Saturday's match because of yellow card accumulation.