Fire-Whitecaps FC Preview

Currently last in their respective conferences, reaching the

playoffs isn’t very realistic for either the Chicago Fire or

Vancouver Whitecaps.

Fire interim coach Frank Klopas is at least optimistic with the

debuts of his newest players and the direction his team is

headed.

Chicago looks to build on an encouraging performance Sunday when

it visits a Whitecaps team coming off its most lopsided defeat of

the season.

The Fire (2-6-13) and Whitecaps have had little to cheer about

this year, as they are tied for the fewest wins in the league.

Chicago has won just once since April, and Vancouver (2-11-9) has

only one victory since its MLS opener March 19.

Although wins have been hard to come by for the Fire, they’ve

found themselves in many close games. With 13 contests remaining,

Chicago is just one draw away from matching the MLS single-season

mark of 14 set last season by FC Dallas.

The Fire tied for the fifth time in seven matches Wednesday,

playing to a 1-all draw with Philadelphia. The Union, one of the

top teams in the Eastern Conference, scored first in the 34th

minute, but Chicago rallied with a goal off the foot of Pavel Pardo

from 17 yards 20 minutes later.

The 35-year-old Pardo was making his Fire debut after signing

with the club July 26. The defensive midfielder from Mexico wasn’t

expected to play more than a half, but instead played the full 90

minutes and made the game’s biggest offensive play.

“It was just fantastic to see his first game what he did,”

Klopas told the Fire’s official website. “And not just because he

scored the goal, even if he didn’t, the leadership qualities on the

field and how good he was with the ball.”

Midfielder Sebastian Grazzini from Argentina also made his MLS

debut, logging 66 minutes.

“You can see their quality and what they bring to the team and I

was very pleased with that,” Klopas said. “Disappointed, obviously,

not to get three points at home, but I’m very pleased with the

performance of the team and how we’re coming together.”

The same cannot be said for the Whitecaps.

Vancouver is coming off last Saturday’s 4-0 loss to Los Angeles,

its fifth defeat in six games. The MLS-worst Whitecaps held their

own for the first half against the league-leading Galaxy, who

didn’t notch their first goal until the 61st minute.

“There’s a lot of disappointment,” said coach Tom Soehn, who

played for the Fire from 1998-2000 and coached the team for three

seasons. “To end like we did, it’s going to be hard to get

over.

“All we can do it get back next week and make sure we prepare

for Chicago.”

These teams played to a scoreless draw on May 7 in Chicago,

combining for three shots on goal.

Vancouver will have Omar Salgado, the No. 1 pick of the draft,

again available after he missed the last two matches playing for

the U.S. U-18 national team. The forward has one goal in 12

matches.