Chicago and Kansas City. There was a time (oh, about a month ago maybe?) when these Midwestern rivals were considered amongst the best defensive teams in Major League Soccer.
Then both teams installed turnstiles in front of their own nets. Between the two teams they've allowed 10 goals in the last two games. (It's worth noting that both of these teams posted back-to-back shutouts earlier this season.) And now, just one point separates the two in the (admittedly waaaaaay too early to truly matter) Eastern Conference standings.
You can almost smell the acrid air of parity that seems to shroud this league. Let's get it on with the preview.
Party on Wizards fans
Fox Soccer Channel will be recording its 30-minute pre- and post-game shows on the Party Deck at CommunityAmerica Ballpark. Make sure you show up and gather around 7 p.m. (and then immediately after the game) to cheer on your 'Zards. Also, bonus blog points (which I just made up) will be given to anyone who makes a sign explaining how to correctly pronounce Stephane Auvray's name. FSC needs to know these things.
Come early, stay late
There's a footy triple-header tonight. The 7:30 MLS game will be preceded by a KCW Juniors-Fire U-16 game and post-ceded by a U.S. Open Cup qualifying match between local amateur side the Kansas City Athletics and the Chicago-based AAC Eagles. The youth match starts at 4 p.m. and you must have a ticket for the MLS game to enter. You also have to leave for a bit after it ends. The Athletics-Eagles game will kick off at approximately 9:45 p.m.
How They Fared Last WeekD.C. United 2, Kansas City 1 (May 5th)
Were absolutely railroaded by DCU in ridiculously lucky and unremarkable fashion.Toronto FC 4, Chicago 1
Were absolutely railroaded by TFC in a windy and ugly affair.
Injury ReportKANSAS CITY WIZARDS
OUT: MF Zoltan Hercegfalvi (R knee sprain/torn ACL); QUESTIONABLE: MF Davy Arnaud (L knee sprain); MF Stephane Auvray (R knee strain)CHICAGO FIRE
OUT: FW Calen Carr (R quad strain); MF John Thorrington (L quad strain); DOUBTFUL: DF Tim Ward (L calf strain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Baggio Husidic (R calcaneus contusion); DF Steven Kinney (L hamstring strain); MF Justin Mapp (L hamstring strain)
Best Guess at Formation
The official pre-game notes showed a few changes, notably the team was NOT set up in a 4-3-3 as they've been all season. Secondly, Josh Wolff and Auvray weren't in the lineup. These, of course, could just be preliminary. The injuries to Arnaud and Auvray are rumored to be a little more serious than just "questionable." Auvray isn't expected to play and Arnaud will be a game-time decision.4-4-2
• Forward: Kamara, Bunbury
• Midfield: Smith, Hirsig, Rocastle, Jewsbury
• Defense: Espinoza, Besler, Conrad, Harrington
• Goalkeeper: Nielsen
MLS Career: 119 games, 30.2 fouls called per game, 3.8 yellow cards per game, 46 penalties.
• Chicago are 20-9-7 against Kansas City all time. In 2009, the two teams tied 2-2 in Chicago and the Fire won 2-0 in Kansas City.
• The Wizards have scored six goals this season, five of them have come against D.C. United.
• Fire midfielder Logan Pause's 35-yard screamer against Toronto FC was the MLS goal of the week this week.
• The Fire started the season by allowing five goals in five games, but have allowed five goals in the past two.
• The always solid Backpost2Byline podcast with Mike and Thad. [Backpost2Byline
• Chicago Confidential's game preview. [Chicago Confidential
The Wizards are a better team at home than they are on the road. Case in point, they've posted a goal differential of +4 at home with two shutouts. ... Chicago are a solid attacking team that have of late had problems allowing soft goals. ... This should be a hard-fought game, but I can't see a victory in it for either side. ...Prediction: Wizards 1 (Kamara), Fire 1 (John).
Vive les Wizards!