Fire-Impact Preview

BY foxsports • September 22, 2015

An in-season coaching change has paid off so far for the Montreal Impact. The Chicago Fire are hoping for similar results when Brian Bliss makes his debut as interim coach in Wednesday's match with an Impact club riding a four-game unbeaten streak under Mauro Biello.

Last in MLS with 27 points and headed toward a third consecutive playoff absence, Chicago (7-16-6) announced sweeping organizational changes after Saturday's 1-0 loss to Orlando City. Frank Yallop was sacked with technical director Bliss handling coaching duties for the final five games, with Nelson Rodriguez to lead the search for a new coach after being named general manager.

"I share our fans' frustration and while we've enjoyed success off the pitch, I'm obviously not happy with the results on it," Fire owner Andrew Hauptman said in a statement. "I felt the need to make changes now in order to better position ourselves for the offseason and beyond."

Bliss went 4-4-0 as Columbus' interim coach to end the 2013 season.

The Fire have suffered three straight one-goal losses, the same scenario Montreal (10-11-6) encountered when it replaced Frank Klopas with Biello Aug. 29. The Impact are 2-0-2 since the switch to move into sixth place in the Eastern Conference.

"We have a new energy and focus. Tactically we've been sharp," goalkeeper Evan Bush told the Impact's official website.

Montreal's run began with a 4-3 home victory over Chicago Sept. 5 and was extended with Saturday's 3-0 triumph over previously surging New England, with Didier Drogba having a big hand in both wins.

The former Chelsea star became the first player to record a hat trick in his first MLS start against the Fire, and scored twice within a four-minute span in the second half to rally the Impact from a 3-2 deficit. Drogba had a goal and an assist Saturday as Montreal halted the Revolution's six-game win streak.

Drogba had yet to join the team when the Impact were dealt a 3-0 loss at Chicago May 30. The Fire are 0-3-2 all-time at Saputo Stadium, however, and 0-10-5 on the road across all competitions this season.

Chicago also announced Tuesday that goalkeeper Sean Johnson (torn labrum) and defender Eric Gehrig (stress fracture, ankle) will miss the remainder of the season.

The Impact won't have midfielder Marco Donadel after he was red-carded against New England, but defenseman Ambroise Oyongo is eligible after sitting Saturday's match on suspension.

Chicago's Kennedy Igboananike has two goals and two assists in the two season meetings and defenseman Jeff Larentowicz has a goal in each.


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