Friday, July 8, 2011
Fire face tough road test at Galaxy
By Charlie Corr
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The Chicago Fire return to The Home Depot Center for a second straight week, but this time around they face the team that has dominated in that stadium this season -- the Los Angeles Galaxy.
The Fire and Galaxy square off Saturday, and Chicago (2-4-12) is coming off a 1-1 draw against Chivas USA the previous week. The Galaxy enters the weekend in first place in the Western Conference with a 9-2-9 record, posting an impressive and unbeaten home mark at 4-0-5.
"It's a different game than the Chivas game," Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas said. "We know the field. It's a little bigger field than ours [at Toyota Park], as far as the length of it. It's probably the biggest in the league, if I'm not mistaken. It's good that we played on it, but we have to play a better game than the last one."
The last match was a fourth straight draw, and Chicago leads MLS with 12 of them. The Fire prepare for their toughest road test since Klopas took over Carlos de los Cobos' coaching duties. So far under Klopas, the Fire are 1-0-6.
"You just need one win to get the ball rolling," Fire forward Dominic Oduro said. "Hopefully it will come and everything will fall into place."
A road victory would be a tall task against the Galaxy, headed by Landon Donovan and his team-leading eight goals.
"They're a very well organized team," Klopas said. "They stay very compact, they pressure the ball and they get after guys. With Donovan's pace, obviously their strength is in the midfield, and everything goes through Juninho, who's good with the ball but is also very good to join in late runs."
The Fire have defended well on set pieces during Klopas' coaching tenure. Galaxy midfielder David Beckham (back) could be a question mark for Saturday. But if Beckham does play a part in the weekend match, there is no question that Chicago's set-piece defending has to be in top form.
"We've got to limit the number of opportunities on that and make sure we defend very well and stay compact," Klopas said.
The Galaxy has not posted a loss since a 2-1 defeat on May 1 at FC Dallas, and its 11-game unbeaten run is the longest current stretch in MLS.
Galaxy goalkeeper Brian Perk made his MLS debut last week, saving a penalty kick and eventually earning a scoreless draw against Seattle Sounders FC. Perk had to step in because of regular starter Donovan Ricketts' forearm injury and backup Josh Saunders' suspension.
Oduro and midfielder Marco Pappa lead the Fire with five goals apiece this season. The Fire have not posted a multi-goal game during Klopas' coaching duties.
World Football Challenge on ESPN: The 2011 Herbalife World Football Challenge, which includes the Fire's July 23 match against Manchester United, will be televised on various ESPN networks throughout the summer. It was announced Friday that the Fire-Manchester United telecast is set for 4 p.m. on ESPN2, with the match taking place at Soldier Field. More details about the World Football Challenge are available at WorldFootballChallenge.com.