The last time the two teams played, Chicago was a team that played back and stifled a draw against Sporting Kansas City in the home opener for Sporting. They were never supposed to be the type of team who could go on month and a half win streaks.
Then Mike Magee happened.
Suddenly Chicago is hot. They haven't lost a match since May and are climbing the table. Sporting KC will go into Chicago to try and quell the red-hot Fire while keeping themselves in good standing among the Eastern Conference leaders.
About the Teams
If there were one word used to describe this Sporting KC team it would be inconsistent. One week they're dominating possession, making good runs off the ball and scoring with what seems like ease. The next, they're struggling against a team they should be throttling and losing points in the process. Coming off a 1-1 draw with the Whitecaps on Wednesday, Sporting is looking for a good result in Chicago so that they can keep in good standing in the Eastern Conference. They're in no danger of falling immediately, but they'd certainly prefer some insurance points down the road.
As explained in the title, deck and opening paragraph, Chicago has been a very good team as of late. Ever since the addition of Mike Magee, they have been a better attacking team and have not lost a match since May 18th. However Magee isn't the only reason the Fire have done so well. The wing play from Duka and Nyarko has been excellent and Sean Johnson has been great so far. Nyarko may be a concern after a tight hamstring arose in Wednesday's match against San Jose, but he looks to be good to go for the Fire. Chicago will be without Sean Johnson due to Gold Cup duty.
Players to Watch
Sporting KC- Seth Sinovic
Sinovic has been nursing an injury for the past couple of weeks which caused him to be subbed out of the Columbus match on Saturday and not play at all Wednesday. If he is ready to go tomorrow, It will be interesting to see if he is back to the form of being one of the most consistent players on the pitch or if he will lag because of his injury. Whatever the case may be, if Sinovic plays his defending could make or break the game for Sporting KC, for better or for worse.
Chicago Fire- Patrick Nyarko
Mike Magee has been great but he needs someone to provide chances to him. Nyarko has been that someone. As mentioned above, Nyarko attained a slight hamstring injury in the match against San Jose on Wednesday. If Nyarko is playing well, the Sporting defense will have to be at top form to defend the Fire attack. However, if the hamstring holds him back, Sporting's task of defending the Chicago wing play is made easier.
How they will Win
Sporting will need to contain the wing play of Duka and Nyarko and not allow them to provide any chances to Mike Magee. Chicago can't win if they can't score, so Sporting will need to live up to their defensive potential and keep Mike Magee's finishing touch out of consideration. If Sporting can keep the wings at bay, they should be able to get a good result in Chicago.
Chicago needs to keep the ball in the attacking half and keep pressuring the Sporting defense until they make a mistake. The Fire need to control the ball in the midfield and not allow Sporting much room to operate with their offense. If the Fire can pressure the Sporting defense into making mistakes, they should be able to take advantage of the shaky back line.
Sporting KC: Nielsen, Myers, Collin, Besler, Sinovic, Nagamura, Rosell, Saad, Bieler, Kamara
Chicago: Tornaghi, Anibaba, Soumare, Berry, Segares, Nyarko, Pause, Alex, Duka, Rolfe, Magee
Chicago Fire 2-1 Sporting Kansas City
Chicago's attack has been too good recently whereas the Sporting KC defense has been rather shaky. I expect the Fire's offense to overwhelm the defense and earn three points for the Fire.