21
Mar
09

Matchday Preview: Fire vs. FC Dallas

Though they haven’t been known as the Burn since pre-2005, Dallas and the Fire have shared a special type of rivalry. Obviously not a geographical one (as anyone on either side who have ever made the long trek can attest to), but a rivalry nonetheless. Unfortunately though, except for a handful of original supporters, a rivalry which is hovering on life support, waiting for the plug to be pulled.

In the dark days of MLS (i.e. 2001), a cup was created between the Fire and the Burn, awarded to the team that wins the season series between the two teams. Aptly named The Brimstone Cup, it has had a decidedly one-sided ownership since its creation, with Chicago winning it in its inaugural year due to a postseason tiebreaker in the playoffs, and Dallas winning it outright since (with two minor exceptions: 2003 the teams were tied, and did not meet in postseason nor in the USOC, so Dallas retained the trophy, and 2005 Dallas won the tie in a USOC match).

As if these stats weren’t disappointing enough, the Fire have not won a road opener since 2002, and have not won away at Dallas since 1999…

At the risk of sounding like a loathable loser from the northside, I truly believe this year is the year we bring the Brimstone Cup home. While the Fire haven’t made many big moves in the offseason, it’s because they have, as has been reiterated ad nauseum from the rest of the soccer blog community, the deepest team in the league. With the exception of a few draft pick signings (Baggio Husidic, Stefan Dimitrov), and a veteran defender Tim Ward (filling in for an injured Brandon Prideaux), the core of the team is the same that challenged for the Supporter’s Shield, took 3rd overall in the league (second in the conference), and made it deep into the playoffs only to be beaten by the MLS Champion Crew, who let’s face it, no one could beat last year. Hell, Chicago could split the team right down the middle and be able to field two separate, but no less quality, soccer teams this year. And yeah, it all sounds good in theory sure, but when will we know if it works in practice?

Tonight.

Blanco is still suffering from a knock on his knee earlier in the pre-season, and is a longshot to start today, so DH will be fielding a faster, if not as visually stunning, team. My prediction:

—————————Busch———————-

–Ward—-Soumare——–Brown —-Segares

———Thorrington—————–Conde——–

–Pappa————————————–Mapp–

————–McBride————–Rolfe————–

Reports out of training camp was that Rolfe has been sick, sick enough to be sent home for a while to recouperate, but hopefully he will be strong enough to start this match. If not, there’s Nyarko waiting in the wings who has had some definite spark for the team lately as well. He showed a few moments of brilliance last year, but now he’s been with the Fire for a full season and full pre-season, studying under the tutilage of Brian McBride who has also had more time to gel with the team. That, combined with the projected temperature in Dallas being around 72°F at matchtime, gives me a good feeling about tonight.

Arriaga’s prediction:       Fire 2-1 Dallas

Bariaga’s prediction:        Fire 2-1 Dallas

Don’t forget, if you can’t follow the match live on TV, visit our Twitter page for live match updates and highlights.

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