Competition: Major League Soccer – Chicago Fire vs. Real Salt Lake
Venue: Toyota Park – Saturday, May 9th – 15:00 ET (20:00 BST)
Match Odds: Chicago Fire: 6/5 Draw: 9/4 Real Salt Lake: 23/10
Chicago Fire go into battle with Real Salt Lake at Toyota Park on Saturday afternoon, looking to get back to winning ways after last week’s defeat at Sporting Kansas City, in what was their first loss since March 22nd.
Real Salt Lake themselves are on a four-game winless run after a 0-0 draw at home against LA Galaxy on Wednesday night in the first of two games they have played this week.
Chicago Fire were on a three-game winning run until that was halted last week away in Missouri. Their three wins all came at Toyota Park, giving them huge confidence ahead of this tight encounter. After this one Chicago face two away games as they head to The Yankee Stadium to face New York City FC and then the MAPFRE stadium to face Columbus Crew in two important Eastern Conference ties.Embed from Getty Images
Prior to that Chicago Fire failed to register a win in their opening three with defeats to LA Galaxy, Vancouver Whitecaps and a loss to San Jose Earthquakes left them reeling, but what a turnaround it has been for The Fire, giving head coach Frank Yallop eight wins now since he has taken over.
The Fire currently sit in the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and would aspire to be there come the end of the season, after last season’s disappointing 9th place finish.
Real Salt Lake are playing their second game this week following a draw at home to MLS Cup holders LA Galaxy. A real contrast to last season with no win in four now means they are in a lowly seventh place in the Western Conference, with their last win coming at San Jose back on April 5th.
Just one win away this season, coupled with plenty of draws leaves the Claret and Cobalt looking out of shape and outside the playoff places.Embed from Getty Images
Since that win in San Jose, Real Salt Lake have scored just the once. And although they will look at the draw with the Galaxy as a good point, failing to secure three points in this one could further hinder their chances of finishing in a respectable position come the end of October.
In the last five meetings between the two, there has been one Fire win, one RSL win and three draws.
Last season’s lone meeting between the two saw Real Salt Lake grab a 3-2 victory at Toyota Park.
Chicago Fire will be without Mike Magee as he still recovers from hip surgery and Patrick Nyarko who is also likely to miss the rest of the season after a torn ACL. Doubts have been raised over Michael Stephens too who could also miss out with an ankle injury. David Accam is suspended after picking up a red card at Sporting Kansas City last weekend.
Real Salt Lake still miss Joao Plata and Chris Schuler, who continue to recover from long-term injuries, while Javier Morales is out with concussion. Like Chicago Fire injury doubts lay within Sebastian Jaime (right tibia) and Boyd Okwuonu (shoulder injury).
Chicago Fire’s last five: L/W/W/W/L
Real Salt Lake’s last five: D/L/L/L/D
Key Stat: Chicago Fire have only scored six goals this season but have won three games, compared to Real Salt Lake’s two wins from seven goals scored.
Key Player: Nick Rimando – For the second time in a week this man could be the key player. His stoppage time penalty save against the Galaxy earned his team a point and his presence in goal and voice on the pitch is so vital in a crunch fixture like this.Embed from Getty Images
Chicago Fire 0-1 Real Salt Lake – The Royals are long overdue a win and could really do with all three points. They have to win and have last season’s victory to look at to act as a stepping stone for further success. Chicago will have been disappointed by last weekend’s defeat and may struggle to bounce back immediately.