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Preview: Chicago host Red Bulls in Eastern Conf. clash

The Chicago Fire and New York Red Bulls quickly return from midweek endeavours to face off in a key Eastern Conference clash on Sunday afternoon at Toyota Park. The Fire are coming off a scoreless draw at home on Wednesday with Real Salt Lake, as Frank Klopas is still undefeated since taking over. The Red Bulls are on the third game of a four-game swing, falling 4-2 at Seattle Sounders FC on Thursday.

TV: ESPN; Radio: WQBU 92.7 FM



REFEREE: Kevin Stott. SAR (bench): Adam Wienckowski; JAR (opposite): Brian Poeschel; 4th: Michael Kennedy
MLS Career: 202 games; FC/gm: 25.8; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 54; pens: 41

CHICAGO FIRE – OUT: MF Mike Banner (L Achilles tendinitis); DF Steven Kinney (R Achilles tendinitis); MF Logan Pause (concussion); DOUBTFUL: MF Marko Maric (L deltoid sprain)
NEW YORK RED BULLS – OUT: MF Carl Robinson (R knee contusion); DF Chris Albright (hernia surgery); FW Luke Rodgers (L foot plantar fasciitis)

NY: Rafael Marquez (Mexico); Juan Agudelo, Tim Ream (USA)

CHI: Cristian Nazarit (through June 26)

CHI: Cory Gibbs, Dominic Oduro, Daniel Paladini, Gonzalo Segares
CHI: Diego Chaves, Cristian Nazarit
NY: Luke Rodgers, Teemu Tainio

ALL-TIME (38 meetings): Fire 20 wins, 60 goals … Red Bulls 11 wins, 43 goals … Ties 7
AT CHICAGO (19 meetings): Fire 11 wins, 33 goals … Red Bulls 3 wins, 17 goals … Ties 5
RETURN MATCH: 8/13: New York Red Bulls vs. Chicago Fire, 7:30 p.m. ET


- 3/27: NY 1, CHI 0 (Lindpere 40)

- 8/8: CHI 0, NY 0

- The Red Bulls’ home win last March 27 snapped a five-game losing streak against the Fire for New York. The Red Bulls last previous victory had come Sept. 1, 2007, a 1-0 win at Giants Stadium.

- The last victory by the New York club in Chicago came May 14, 2005, a 3-0 win at Soldier Field (0-5-2 since).

- The Fire have never lost to the Red Bulls at Toyota Park, winning five of the seven meetings there all-time (with two draws).

- Coaches' records: Frank Klopas vs. NY: first game … Hans Backe v CHI: P2 W1 L0 D1


The New York Red Bulls saw their six-game unbeaten streak come to an end, falling 4-2 to Seattle Sounders FC on Thursday evening at CenturyLink Field. The Red Bulls have 23 points from 16 games, in a tie for the lead of the Eastern Conference.


- Sounders FC scored in the aftermath of corner kicks early on, staking Seattle to a 2-0 lead after just 12 minutes. First, Erik Friberg collected a partial clearance outside the penalty area, cut back and neatly curled it in the far post. Less than two minutes later, Osvaldo Alonso scored a similar goal from the opposite side, volleying a short clearance that appeared to deflect off a foot and into the net.

- The Red Bulls were handed a lifeline in the 31st minute when Dane Richards drove a shot towards goal that Kasey Keller got a hand to but couldn’t keep out of the net. The visitors then leveled the score when right back Jan Gunnar Solli fired in a low cross that deflected off Zach Scott and into the Seattle goal.

- But Sounders FC regained the lead in the 67th minute. Substitute Roger Levesque flashed in at the near post on a corner kick and knocked a glancing header back over his shoulder and inside the far post. Then in the 78th minute, New York goalkeeper Greg Sutton misplayed a simple back pass, allowing Levesque to steal the ball and score on an empty net to seal the victory.

- Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe made one change to the team that drew 3-3 with the Portland at Jeld-Wen Field. Dane Richards came back from international duty for the suspended Thierry Henry.

- NEW YORK RED BULLS (4-1-3-2): Greg Sutton - Jan Gunnar Solli, Carlos Mendes, Stephen Keel, Roy Miller - Teemu Tainio (Corey Hertzog 93+) - Mehdi Ballouchy, Joel Lindpere, Austin da Luz (John Rooney 79) - Dwayne De Rosario, Dane Richards.


- Three of the four goals allowed by the Red Bulls came from corner kicks. They have now allowed five goals on the season from corners, most in MLS.

- "Conceding three goals on corners hurt us. It's ridiculous. You can't win games that way," said head coach Hans Backe after the match. "The way we defend against corners absolutely has to stop now."

- Officially, 11 of the 20 goals conceded by the Red Bulls on the season have come from deadball situations – five on corners, four on free kicks and two on penalty kicks. In addition, a rebound goal and an own goal started from set pieces.

- “Set pieces are our problem. We were actually playing well, especially after the equalizing goal,” Jan Gunnar Solli said. “At 2-2, I felt like we were the team in control.”

- With Thierry Henry suspended after receiving a red card in the Portland match, Dane Richards started up top alongside Dwayne De Rosario – two players who have nominally been midfielders this season.

- Richards had missed five matches while on international duty with the Jamaican national team for the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

- "Once we got to 2-2 we had momentum and we tried to go for the win or at least get a point but we gave up a set play again. We have to put this behind us as soon as possible before the game in Chicago," said Richards.

- The Red Bulls have now conceded seven goals in two games to start the four-game road swing. They had allowed five goals on their travels in their first six games away from Red Bull Arena.

- The Red Bulls have conceded 17 goals in the last eight games after allowing just three in the opening eight. The four goals scored by Seattle were a season-high against New York, after allowing three goals in a game twice.

- "I'm disappointed with the result. We showed a little fight to come back from 2-0 down to tie it up but set pieces are killing us. They've killed us for the past few games now so it's definitely something we need to look at, something that we need to change as soon as possible," said Austin da Luz.


The Chicago Fire played to a fifth consecutive home draw, this time a scoreless result with Real Salt Lake on Wednesday evening at Toyota Park. The Fire have 16 points from 16 matches on the year, sitting in sixth place in the Eastern Conference.


- RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando made four saves on the evening, most of the tougher chances coming after the halftime break.

- Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson was called upon to make two saves.

- Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas made two changes to the team that reached a 1-1 draw with the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium. Daniel Paladini came into the midfield for Logan Pause and Orr Barouch started for the suspended Cristian Nazarit.

- CHICAGO FIRE (4-4-2): Sean Johnson - Jalil Anibaba, Cory Gibbs, Yamith Cuesta, Gonzalo Segares - Dominic Oduro, Daniel Paladini, Baggio Husidic (Corben Bone 80), Patrick Nyarko - Diego Chaves (Gabriel Ferrari 86), Orr Barouch (Marco Pappa 70).


- With Cristian Nazarit suspended, Orr Barouch made his first MLS start for the Fire. He had come on as a substitute in 13 of the first 15 games on the season.

- "Orr is what I expected," Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas said. "He's got very good qualities -- technical qualities. ... He doesn't get rattled and he looks for opportunities and moments like this."

- Captain and linchpin midfielder Logan Pause was ruled out of the match after suffering a concussion. Pause had made five successive starts, missing three consecutive starts from April 30-May 14 through injury.

- Goalkeeper Sean Johnson recorded his fourth shutout in the last five league matches. Since replacing Jon Conway, Johnson has not seen the club lose, now 1-0-5

- "He's been gaining confidence, and when we needed him to make — or do the things he's supposed to do in a game — he's done that," Klopas said. "He's made a save, or saves, not only in this game, in other games also, to keep us in the game and give us an opportunity to win. That position has a lot to do with confidence. He's young, and I think he's got tremendous upside, but it's good that he's gaining confidence, because that's very important."

- Baggio Husidic made a third consecutive start, playing with Daniel Paladini in the central midfield. But Klopas admitted the pair struggled at times.

- “I felt we weren’t as sharp. We forced the ball and made turnovers at times when it was a dangerous situation, and we weren’t quick enough to get out of the situations,” Klopas said. “I felt the second half was better for us. We moved the ball better, we were looking to switch the point of attack to attack the ball from wide spots.”

- After missing four matches while with the Guatemalan national team for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, Klopas brought Marco Pappa off the bench for the final 20 minutes.

- "He was fatigued a little bit," Klopas said. "I knew he wasn't going to be able to provide 90 minutes. Going into this game, with Dominic [Oduro] and Patrick [Nyarko], with their transition and pace out wide, we would be able to get at them."