Fire go for eighth straight home win against Whitecaps (Jul 01, 2017)
One of the hottest teams in Major League Soccer will be without two of its biggest contributors on Saturday
The Chicago Fire (10-3-4, 34 points) play host to the Vancouver Whitecaps (6-6-3, 21 points) at Toyota Park and seek an unprecedented -- in one regular season -- eighth straight home victory.
Chicago is also unbeaten in nine straight MLS games and has outscored opponents 20-5 during that span.
But Fire midfielders David Accam and Dax McCarty will be away, called up for national team duties with Ghana and the United States, respectively. Vancouver will also be short-handed with four players reporting for camp with Team Canada.
Accam has 10 goals, including a hat trick last Saturday, and McCarty has three assists so far this season.
Chicago will have top gun Nemanja Nikolic on hand. He has an MLS-leading 14 goals.
The Fire beat Orlando City 4-0 last week and then fell at FC Cincinnati in a midweek U.S. Open Cup tournament in front of a crowd of 32,000. Chicago lost in a 3-1 penalty kick shootout in its earliest elimination from Cup play since 2012.
"The team is doing well, but these kinds of defeats are good red flags for the team, we have to understand that we cannot relax," Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said. "You have to fight, you have to play, you have to understand that every game is different and you have to prepare for every opponent the best possible way you can."
The visiting Whitecaps will mark Canada Day in suburban Chicago after last Wednesday's 2-2 deadlock after host Minnesota United rallied from a 2-0 deficit.
Highly-regarded forward Yordy Reyna could debut Saturday and see some minutes after missing four months with a foot injury.
"It's been a long recovery process," Reyna told reporters this week. "I've been practicing a lot, so I feel a lot better now. It's been really tough these last few months with the pain, and the desire to play, but thankfully that time's past now and I'm ready to get on the field."
Vancouver leads the series 4-1-2. The Whitecaps have given up multiple goals to the Fire only once in that run.
After Saturday's game, the Fire play their next three on the road starting Wednesday at Portland. New York City FC visits Vancouver the same day.