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Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Fire look to cool down red-hot Rapids

By Charlie Corr

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The Chicago Fire will have their work cut out for them when they host the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday night at Toyota Park (8 p.m. kickoff). Take away Colorado's U.S. Open Cup loss to the New York Red Bulls, and the Rapids enter the match with three straight wins in MLS action.

"They're in good form," Fire midfielder Baggio Husidic said Tuesday following training. "We've just got to make it difficult for them to play on the road -- play stingy defense, make those long runs out of the middle, and shut down their key players and attack their weaknesses."

Typically, those key players for Colorado (6-3-1) are Conor Casey and Omar Cummings. Both netted a goal during the Fire's last meeting in Colorado, a 2-2 draw on April 3. Cummings, however, has not scored a goal for the Rapids since, a span of eight straight MLS matches.

The Fire (3-3-4) ended a six-week-long winless drought this past weekend, topping the expansion Philadelphia Union, 2-1, on Saturday at Toyota Park. Husidic and Marco Pappa each netted their third goals of the season, and are tied for second on the team behind Brian McBride (four goals).

It wasn't the smoothest of matches, but Chicago got the job done.

"Sometimes we're losing our concentration and losing our order, but I think the last match we played better [compared to recent matches]," Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos said. "We need three more points to stay close to the other teams in our group at the top. But I think we're going in the right direction."

The Fire should have forward Collins John back, though the likelihood of him starting is slim because of the lack of playing time and training over the past 10 days or so. John missed the Union match and the May 30 international friendly against A.C. Milan because of an illness that the team did not disclose the nature of. John's lone MLS goal came against Colorado.

"Obviously he's an important player on our team," Husidic said. "He's working hard in training, getting in shape. He's feeling good, so hopefully he'll get the opportunity to do some damage [Wednesday]."

De los Cobos did not state Tuesday which direction he would go up front, but it will either consist of a two-man combination with target forward McBride and midfielder/forward Patrick Nyarko, or McBride as the lone option at forward.

The usual suspects are out for the Fire -- midfielder John Thorrington (quad), forward Calen Carr (quad) and defender Tim Ward (calf).

Colorado will be without midfielder Pablo Mastroeni, who was red carded during Saturday's 1-0 victory over the Columbus Crew. The MLS Disciplinary Committee also tacked on a small fine Wednesday for failure to leave the playing field in a timely manner after striking Crew midfielder Steven Lenhart in the 76th minute.