Match Preview: Chicago vs. Kansas City
Toyota Park, May 12
So far May has been kind to the Fire, undefeated with four points over two games. But things are getting progressively more difficult. The defeat of Chivas in LA came at the last seconds and this last Wednesday’s draw against Real Salt Lake though steady was uninspiring. Chicago’s midweek match was a midfield grind which in a way revealed the true character of the Fire. MLS is midfield-centric league, and Chicago toes the line.
On Wednesday, we saw Marco Pappa put in a third straight excellent performance. Part of this is due to the growing understanding between Pappa and playmaker Seba Grazzini, but part of this is also due to the fact that Pappa has embraced playing the left wing role. Manager Frank Klopas has said that Chicago “are not a team that is going to rely too much on service,” so I suppose I’m going to have to resign myself to the fact that Pappa and Patrick Nyarko will never be played as out-and-out wingers. Yet it can’t be ignored that when Pappa and Nyarko provide service, the Chicago attack lights up.
Over eight games Chicago have scored 9 goals, respectable but not necessarily threatening. With Sporting Kansas City coming in, Chicago will have to have a sharper point to their attack to come away with three points against the best team in the East. It is entirely possible. Kansas City is coming off a shocking loss to Montreal to which Chicago should look. Against Montreal, Kansas City’s attack was bottled-up and stifled. It’s interesting to note that SKC was leaning very much to the left side of the pitch in that match, suggesting a weak right side that could certainly be exploited by Pappa.
First-year centerback Austin Berry put in a second impressive match, and it will be interesting to see if he is given the start again ahead of Jalil Anibaba. Although, I think it would be very, very interesting to see Berry and Anibaba together anchoring the defense. Having lost two straight, Kansas City are looking to right the ship, and there’s nothing they’d like more than to do it against a team they think are their rival. FYI, Sporting Kansas City, just because a team has played you in the past doesn’t mean they’re your rival (http://www.sportingkc.com/blog/post/2012/05/09/tale-two-cities). But who knows, perhaps the Kansas City front-office manufactured rivalry will actually lead to a bit of one because Chicago supporters would love to see Sporting Kansas City taken down a few pegs to where they belong.
Written by Daniel Casey. Follow Daniel on Twitter @winslowbobbins.