Chivas USA-Fire Preview

Goals are scarce but injuries are plentiful for the Chicago Fire

in 2013.

A potentially snowy encounter with Chivas USA could help.

The Fire must finally find the net in order to avoid the most

anemic start in team history Sunday, when they attempt to continue

their dominance of Chivas USA in the teams’ only matchup this

year.

Chicago (0-2-1) has mustered only six shots on goal through

three games, and it’s come up empty on all of them. It’s the first

time the Fire have been shut out in the first three games of a

season since 2004, when they failed to score for a team-record 327

minutes.

The last team to go goalless in its first four games was Toronto

FC in its inaugural 2007 season.

The weather may be a factor in whether they approach that mark.

The forecast calls for snow, which would make for unfamiliar

conditions for Chivas USA (1-1-1).

The Fire have outscored Chivas 17-8 while going 7-0-2 in their

last nine meetings in all competitions dating back to 2008. They

rallied for a 2-1 road win in the only matchup last season on May

4.

Due to injuries, national team commitments and departures,

Chicago has only four players available from that day – defenders

Austin Berry and Gonzalo Segares and midfielders Logan Pause and

Patrick Nyarko.

Pause missed the first three games with a quad injury, but he

may be back in the lineup at right back after injuries to Mike

Videira (concussion) and Steven Kinney (quad).

Depth on the back line continues to be a problem with German

veteran Arne Friedrich out again with a hamstring injury and

goalkeeper Sean Johnson with the U.S. national team for World Cup

qualifiers. Midfielder Dilly Duka also has an injured hamstring,

making him questionable.

“In the team we have depth with good players,” coach Frank

Klopas said.

Paolo Tornaghi is expected to get the call in net for the first

time since a 2-0 loss at Colorado last April 1. The Italian

goalkeeper went 1-1-1 while stopping 14 of 17 shots last year while

Johnson was away with a youth national team.

“We have all the confidence in him,” Klopas said. “He’s played

well and we know we’re going in a situation with World Cup

qualifying and Sean being with the national team, its great for him

but we have all the confidence in Paolo in moments like this.”

Chivas USA was expected to be one of the struggling franchises

in MLS this year, but the team has been impressive over the last

two weeks. It followed a surprising 3-1 win over FC Dallas on March

10 with another unexpected result last weekend, a 1-1 draw with Los

Angeles.

“Everyone has that winning mentality right now,” rookie

midfielder Carlos Alvarez told the team’s official website. “We’re

coming over here to get those three points. Right now, there is no

such thing as weather, it’s for both teams.”

Alvarez scored in the 89th minute as a substitute in his MLS

debut against the Galaxy, becoming the fourth Chivas player to find

the net.