KEY PLAYERS: ATTACKING
Coming off the bench in the second half against Montreal Camilo seemed reenergized as he was continually making his runs at the defenders which eventually led to the free kick that set up the tying goal. If he can add a pass onto the end of some of those runs, the Caps may see more goals.
The Uruguayan striker Diego Chaves was brought in to provide goals for a team that was looking weak up front and he does just that scoring 4 of the team’s nine this season. While not very tall, 5’8”, Chaves normally plays a the lone striker for the Fire.
KEY PLAYERS: DEFENSE
A year and some days after his horrific injury Mouloud Akloul made a triumphant return scoring the winning goal in the two game aggregate against the Impact. He was also the best defender on the night, was easily the most vocal on the backline and was getting the crowd involved in the game.
The Fire’s left back Gonzalo Segares is the longest standing Chicago defender entering his seventh season with the club. He has good pace on the outside when on the attack and has the ability to lockdown opposition midfielders when defending.
WHO’S ON FORM
He played a full 90 minutes so Russell Teibert may not start against Chicago as they are looking to manage the minutes of the young Canadian. Based on his play against Montreal Teibert would deserve another start as he proving to be a consistent threat on the left wing.
Another left sided player Marco Pappa has been in on five of the Fire’s nine goals, scoring three and assisting on two, while patrolling the left wing. What makes Pappa dangerous is his ability to start on the left and drift into the middle usually joining the striker up top.
Last Game: 1-1 Draw vs Montreal
Last Game: 1-1 Draw at Colorado
The Whitecaps welcome back Hassli from suspension to team up with Camilo up front. Neither players saw a full 90 in the midweek game as Hassli played only the first and Camilo saw 75 minutes of action. While it seems like Chiumiento may need a game off after playing 120 minutes there is no guarantee that Teitur will bench their best playmaker but a good option would be Salinas who is almost ready for full duty. Teibert was subbed off after 90 minutes on Wednesday and may see another start or start on the bench with Khalfan possibly starting on the left side. In the central midfield it seems like both Dunfield and Koffie never get fatigued but there is a chance that either Brovsky or Harmse starts in one of their place. Because there is a serious lack of depth at the fullback position it is highly unlikely that either Rochat or Leathers get a day off. Akloul was the team’s best overall player on Wednesday and should start again but this time with Boxall as Janicki struggled against the Impact. It hard to imagine, considering how much Joe Cannon is paid, that he won’t see the pitch but we’ll still pencil in Nolly as the starter in goal.
The Chicago Fire have been playing a 4-1-4-1 formation lately with Chaves as the lone striker up front. Although they have listed only one forward 3 of their 5 midfielder are capable and will join Chaves as Pappa, Puerari and Oduro will make runs into the box regularly. Paladini is the offensive midfielder while Bone will be the holding midfielder in this formation for the Fire. Due to injury the Fire are missing their top 2 CBs and will likely start youngsters Anibaba and Cuesta in the middle and will have to rely on the more seasoned fullbacks Segares and Robinson to help them out. Veteran goalkeeper Jon Conway seems to have unseated Sean Johnson for the goalkeeper position and is looking to start his fourth of the season.
QUESTIONABLE: DF Jay DeMerit (groin), MF Michael Nanchoff (groin)
OUT: MF Mike Banner (achilles), DF Steve Kinney (achilles), MF Micheal Videira (concussion), FW Gabriel Ferrari (hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: DF Corey Gibbs (hamstring), MF Marko Maric (ankle), DF Josip Mikulic (clavicle), Logan Pause (hamstring)
The Whitecaps are facing another opponent who is in similar standing when it comes to their record in the league table and it may be their best chance to gain their first victory on the road. This will be the fifth match in fifteen days as they continue their busiest period in fixture congestion and travel so far this season. Once the Caps have played this match and returned to Vancouver the club will have made four cross continent trips travelling over 13,000 kilometers in the process.
A positive for the team is that the roster is getting healthier every day as for the first time the Whitecaps face a team with more injury concerns than they have. Vancouver’s captain Jay DeMerit is still is a couple of weeks from being ready to return from his injury as are both John Thorrington and Micheal Nanchoff. Forward Atiba Harris had surgery recently and is out for a month and will need extra time to regain his full fitness.
Despite the relative health, the team still lacks depth at couple of key positions as Teitur is sticking with the same players to fill those spots. The two players, if they start, who need coverage on the defensive side are Rochat and Leathers as they have played every minute so far this season and have started looking tired which has affected their defensive play. That is why starting Salinas over Chiumiento is important as he has more speed than the Swiss international and is better with his marking. Don’t expect either player to make many runs into an attacking position but especially Leathers who has the task of tracking the dangerous Marco Pappa.
The Whitecaps will need to attack the middle when in the final third as they are missing their veteran CBs and their veteran holding midfielder because of injury. The Fire will be starting relatively inexperienced players in those positions and may be exposed if pressured appropriately. The biggest question for the Whitecaps is whether they start the game conservatively so they save their energy or throw caution into the wind and attack a team weak in the back to gain the early lead. However they start the Caps hope the plan works and gets them their first result on the road in the MLS.