Preview: Chicago aim to hold down second place vs. Impact
CHICAGO FIRE vs MONTRÉAL IMPACT
TOYOTA PARK, Bridgeview, Ill.
September 15, 2012 (WEEK 28, MLS Game #267)
7:30 p.m. CT (CSN-Chi; TVA)
A crucial match in the Eastern Conference is ahead on Saturday evening at Toyota Park when the Chicago Fire play host to the Montréal Impact. With their victory at midweek over Toronto FC, the Fire now sit in second place in the East, just three points behind division-leading Sporting KC. The Impact are still in the playoff chase in their inaugural season, now sitting three points out of the final postseason berth following their 2-1 loss in Columbus in their last match that ended a five-game winning run.
REFEREE: Paul Ward. AR1 (bench): Anthony Vasoli; AR2 (opposite): Mark Cahen; 4th: Michael Kennedy
MLS Career: 39 games; FC/gm: 23.0; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 11; pens: 7
- CHICAGO FIRE – OUT: DF Cory Gibbs (R knee meniscus repair); DF Steven Kinney (R groin pain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Daniel Paladini (R calf pain)
- MONTREAL IMPACT – OUT: FW Bernardo Corradi (L knee ACL tear); QUESTIONABLE: MF Justin Mapp (L hamstring pull); PROBABLE: DF Alessandro Nesta (R knee strain); FW Eduardo Sebrango (L shoulder separation)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
- SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: CHI: Dan Gargan, Pavel Pardo … MTL: Patrice Bernier, Collen Warner
- SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: CHI: Sebastian Grazzini, Patrick Nyarko, Dominic Oduro, Gonzalo Segares … MTL: Bernardo Corradi, Sanna Nyassi
ALL-TIME (1 meeting): Fire 0 wins, 1 goal ... Impact 0 wins, 1 goal … Ties 1
- The teams are meeting for the second time. They reached a 1-1 draw March 17 at Olympic Stadium in Montréal before a crowd of 58,912.
- That first meeting came 31 years after the Montréal Manic set a Canadian soccer record with a crowd of 58,542 at Stade Olympique for a quarterfinal match against the Chicago Sting in the old NASL.
- In the first game of the best-of-three series on Sept. 2, 1981, Gordon Hill, Damir Suvetski and Alan Willey scored for Le Manic, overcoming goals by the Sting’s Karl-Heinz Granitza and Ingo Peter for a 3-2 victory. But the Sting won both games in Chicago 4-2 to advance, eventually winning Soccer Bowl ’81 with a shootout victory over the Cosmos.
- Coaches record: Jesse Marsch vs. CHI: P1 W0 L0 T1 … Frank Klopas vs. MTL: P1 W0 L0 T1
3/17: MTL 1, CHI 1 (Arnaud 56 – Oduro 71)
- Before a record crowd in the first MLS game in Montreal, Impact captain Davy Arnaud wrote his name in the history books in the 56th minute, heading home a Sanna Nyassi cross into the upper right corner of Fire goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi's net.
- But 15 minutes later the Fire pulled level. Sebastián Grazzini slipped the ball into the Impact penalty area and Dominic Oduro came sliding in to tap into the goal at full stretch just ahead of goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.
- The Impact nearly had a dream finish deep into stoppage time, but Josh Gardner saw his thunderous blast from all of 35 yards out crash off the right post and away to safety.
- MONTREAL IMPACT (4-4-2): Donovan Ricketts - Jeb Brovsky, Tyson Wahl, Matteo Ferrari, Josh Gardner - Davy Arnaud, Felipe Martins, Patrice Bernier (Lamar Neagle 82), Justin Mapp (Andrew Wenger 68) - Sanna Nyassi, Justin Braun (Bernardo Corradi 77).
- CHICAGO FIRE (4-3-1-2): Paolo Tornaghi - Dan Gargan, Cory Gibbs, Jalil Anibaba, Gonzalo Segares (Hunter Jumper 68) - Logan Pause, Pavel Pardo, Marco Pappa (Federico Puppo 62) - Sebastian Grazzini (Daniel Paladini 79) - Patrick Nyarko, Dominic Oduro.
The Chicago Fire won their second consecutive match, defeating Toronto FC 2-1 on Wednesday evening at BMO Field. The Fire moved into second place in the Eastern Conference with 47 points from 27 games.
HIGHLIGHTS: TOR 1, CHI 2
- The Fire opened the scoring in the 13th minute. A quick series of passes in the final third was concluded when Pavel Pardo fired a shot off the post –- only to see the rebound come right back to him. He spun and put in a cross from the left that found Alvaro Fernandez unmarked to head home for the lead.
- The lead was doubled three minutes before halftime. A corner kick was poorly cleared and fell to Chris Rolfe outside the area, and he slammed home a low drive that sailed inside the left post.
- TFC pulled a goal back in the 79th minute when midfielder Luis Silva set up Eric Hassli in the left side of the penalty area, curling a shot past Sean Johnson's dive.
- Fire head coach Frank Klopas made one change to the team that defeated the Houston Dynamo 3-1 at Toyota Park. Logan Pause came back into the team in place of Daniel Paladini.
- CHICAGO FIRE (4-4-2): Sean Johnson - Jalil Anibaba, Arne Friedrich, Austin Berry, Gonzalo Segares - Patrick Nyarko, Pavel Pardo (Alex 76), Logan Pause, Alvaro Fernandez (Wells Thompson 63) - Sherjill MacDonald (Dominic Oduro 71), Chris Rolfe.
Taking the Lead: Logan Pause, Chicago Fire
- The Fire won for the fifth time in the last six matches. They now hold the second spot in the Eastern Conference; at the start of the run they were in the fifth and final postseason berth.
- “We got the second goal off a set piece which helped and obviously we had some chances to put the game away and in the end we knew that they were going to through a lot going forward, they pushed up with numbers,” said Fire head coach Frank Klopas. “We had chances to put the game away and when you don’t you give up goal from 2-0, momentum shifts and the pressure is on us. In the end we just had to defend well.”
- Alvaro Fernandez scored his first goal since joining the Fire from Seattle Sounders FC. He was making his fifth start for the club and his sixth appearance in all.
- “I can speak from my own experience that when you join a team, or you start a season, and you’re really struggling and trying to find that first goal, it gets harder and harder every game as it goes on,” Chris Rolfe said.
- Rolfe returned to the scoring column with his first goal since Aug. 18. He has scored five of his six goals since his return to Major League Soccer over the last seven games.
- “He’s just a presence up there that occupies one, sometimes two players up there. He opens up spaces for other guys, and he does a good job of controlling the game for us,” Rolfe said of strike partner Sherjill MacDonald. “ … He and I complement each other pretty well. Recently, it’s been a little bit more difficult as teams focus on our combination a little bit more. He definitely helps me going forward.”
- Rolfe also matched a Fire club season-high with seven attempts at goal, and the Fire as a team had a season-high 22 shots at goal.
- “I was just trying to find space in front of the center backs and in front of the holding midfielder. I think our guys did a good job of finding me in those spots and for the most of the time when I take the zone I shoot,” said Rolfe.
- The Fire return home for back-to-back games against Montréal and Columbus; they have a record of 9-2-2 at Toyota Park and have won their last four games on their home ground.
- “Any point on the road at this time of the year is great. I don’t think we played well enough though,” said Rolfe. “I think we have a lot of things that we need to address from this game in both boxes, offensively and defensively, because going forward, as the season gets a little bit tighter and we get into the playoffs we are not going to create the same number of chances and if we give up the chances the other team is going to punish us for it.”
The Montréal Impact had their winning streak put to an end after five games last time out, the Columbus Crew coming back for a 2-1 win at Crew Stadium. The Impact are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 39 points from 29 matches.
HIGHLIGHTS: CLB 2, MTL 1
- The game's opening goal came after 77 minutes. Montreal substitute Sanna Nyassi beat three defenders down the left side and served a ball in the box which Felipe knocked to Di Vaio waiting on the right side of the box. Di Vaio calmly used a classy chip to beat Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum charging off his line.
- The Columbus response came seven minutes later on a set piece by Federico Higuain which found Chad Marshall, who rose up from a crowd to head home over Montreal 'keeper Troy Perkins from the center of the area.
- The Crew then hit for winner in stoppage time. From the left flank, Higuain came up with another pinpoint delivery, finding Emilio Renteria at the penalty spot, who flicked a glancing header past Perkins.
- Impact head coach Jesse Marsch made one change to the team that rolled to a 3-0 victory against D.C. United at Stade Saputo. Nelson Rivas came back from suspension and replaced Dennis Iapichino.
- MONTREAL IMPACT (4-2-3-1): Troy Perkins - Matteo Ferrari, Alessandro Nesta, Nelson Rivas, Jeb Brovsky - Patrice Bernier, Collen Warner - Davy Arnaud (Sanna Nyassi 59), Felipe Martins, Lamar Neagle (Andrew Wenger 81) - Marco Di Vaio.
Anatomy of a Goal: Marco Di Vaio vs. San Jose
- The Impact suffered their first loss since a 3-0 defeat at Houston on July 21, and sit three points out of the final playoff spot with five games to play – but knowing all the teams ahead have games in hand.
- “We played well. We created a lot of chances. When we got the lead late, it felt like we had control of things, but then the game opened up and we were tired,” said Impact head coach Jesse Marsch. “… We let the game get way too open when it was 1-0 and then when it was 1-1. I would’ve like for us to keep things tighter at that moment, but it got away from us. It’s not going to slow us down. It’s one little bump in the road and we’re not slowing down.”
- Said Patrice Bernier: “There are five games to go. You obviously don’t want to stumble now, but in no way do we think it puts us out of the picture.”
- Marco Di Vaio scored his third goal in as many games, and now has four goals in five matches played since opening his MLS goalscoring account July 28.
- The Impact have scored two goals from set-piece situations, second-fewest in the league this season, ahead of only New England’s one.
- “Since Marco has been here, I think our service has gotten better on set pieces, and that would include corner kicks, free kicks,” Marsch said. “We’re still waiting to see how to score a goal off a direct kick, but I think that will come, and Marco's good around the goal in that way. We've been pleased, and I think it's made us more dangerous.”
- Said Di Vaio: “I feel good on the field, so I feel good in those situations. It’s going well physically, on the field and with the team. It helps things click.”
- The Impact face three of their final five games of their inaugural regular season away from Stade Saputo.
- “Late in games, you see now, especially down the stretch, that a lot of these games are determined in the last 10 to 15 minutes,” Marsch said. “And important games are often like that. That’s why the fitness has got to be important, but also the tactical adjustments and awareness of what, late in games, it’s going to be like.”
- Since coming off at halftime of the win vs. New England on Aug. 12, Justin Mapp has not featured – and is still not involved with full training, suffering from a hamstring strain.
- “Missing this last stretch of games has been tough, because we’re trying to make the playoffs and they’re all very important games,” Mapp said. “It is frustrating, but all I can do is try and get better and finish out this last stretch of games. It’s a definitely frustrating time, but it’s part of it.”