Friday, April 29, 2011Posted: 6:56 p.m.
By Dieter Kurtenbach
These are desperate times for the Chicago Fire. And desperate times draw other desperate teams.
Saturdays matchup against the Colorado Rapids will bring together two teams in the pits of tough stretches. Colorado, loser of three straight games, is eager to prove that it still has the form of an MLS Cup winner. The Fire, winless in its last four games, are looking to show that its hot start to the season was not a mirage.
We need it both teams. Chicago Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos said in a rare blunt statement after training Thursday.
The Fire has already beaten the Rapids in 2011 with a 2-1 U.S. Open Cup win in Peoria. But with Chicago using mostly first-team players and Colorado not dressing their top squad in the loss, Fire defender Dasan Robinson doesnt read too much into the teams previous matchup.
You cant take too much from the Open Cup game, Robinson said. Maybe they have a little something against us because we won that game... You have to know in knowing its going to be a fight. Theyre the defending champions, for them to lose three in a row, its kind of like oh, whats going on.
The lineups will likely be different again on Saturday. Both teams have been rattled by injuries and have struggled to create winning lineups in the absence of key players.
The Fire will be without captain Logan Pause and veteran defender Cory Gibbs on Saturday. Colorado is hoping that forward Conor Casey, who is questionable for the game with a left hamstring sprain, will be able to go, reuniting one of the top striking duos in MLS.
Caseys regular partner in crime, Omar Cummings, has struggled without Casey in the lineup, going goalless in his past three games, all Colorado losses. Chicago is hoping that Casey remains out of the lineup, as it would only help Cummings, who has five career goals in four games against the Fire.
I dont think its a matter of trying to shut them down, its a matter of kind of containing Cummings and Casey, Robinson said. You know what theyre capable of, you know what their strengths are. You just have to do your best to try to limit those chances that they get. We know what were strong at.
Despite the lack of positive results, morale is high amongst the Fire, who ended its final training session with a penalty shootout in the mud. De los Cobos said that he is trying to keep a positive attitude in the locker room, but hes not putting as much focus on spirit with the winless streak.
The attitude is not everything in life, de los Cobos said. Attitude is part of this is. Sure, we need to have a very good attitude its important, but its not all. You need to want, and you need to can do it.
The Fire will find out if they have that can on Saturday. First kick in Commerce City, Colorado is set for 8 p.m. Central.