09 May 2012
Posted in Chicago Fire
Regardless of the result, tonight will go down as a very special night in both Fire and Toyota Park history. Fire original and legend, CJ Brown will be inducted into the Ring of Fire at Toyota Park during a special halftime ceremony. If you can remember back to last seasons matchup with RSL, CJ was lauded with cheers of "Ring of Fire" from Section 8 - a show of respect for the former Fire great and current RSL assistant coach.
Of course, we don't want the night to be too special for CJ, so we'd love to come away with the full three points and put together a nice little run. This match is the middle in a 9 day, 3 match stretch that will see the Fire play both RSL and Sporting Kansas City, two of the powerhouse teams in MLS right now.
Fresh off a stoppage time victory at Chivas on Friday, the Fire will come in looking to score early against RSL's second string keeper, Kyle Reynish. Scoring early is something the Fire have done fairly well this season, with 5 of their 9 goals coming before halftime. With the resurgence of Marco Pappa, and the ever present danger of Dominic Oduro, this club looks like they might be ready to make a push through the Eastern conference table.
Rookie Austin Berry was one of the bright spots for the Fire on Friday. Making his first MLS appearance starting for the suspended Jalil Anibaba, Berry conceded a penalty that put Chivas up 1-0 fairly early on. Berry quickly rallied, netting his first MLS goal just two minutes later, and settled down into a fairly solid performance. There has been speculation that his strong play in the back on Friday might have earned him another spot in the starting XI tonight.
The Fire moved from their traditional 4-4-2 lineup to a much more effective 4-5-1 type attack on Friday. The move seemed to give play-makers like Pappa and Sebastian Grazzini more room to roam the center of the pitch, while also bring Patrick Nyarko back to the wing, an area he is much more suited to play from - in my opinion. I'd like to see Klopas continue this 4-5-1 approach tonight and see if it will pay off with three points again.
One thing to keep an eye on tonight will be the play of Sean Johnson. After a couple rough performances since returning from the Olympic heartbreak, Johnson stepped up and played well last week, only conceding on the Angel PK. There had been calls for Johnson to return to the bench and give rookie Paolo Tornaghi another crack, he had played exceptionally well in Johnson's absence. For now though, it seems as though Sean Johnson is still the starting GK for the Chicago Fire.
Be sure to check back before kickoff as I will again be doing a quick pre-match from the press box with my keys to victory for the Chicago Fire tonight.
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