Fire-Whitecaps FC Preview

JEFF BARTL (STATS Writer)
The Associated Press

The Chicago Fire have been playing well of late, but going on the road has presented its challenges in MLS play.

BC Place hasn't been kind to many visitors, and the Vancouver Whitecaps look to remain unbeaten there when the clubs meet Sunday night.

Chicago had gone 7-0-2 across all competitions before falling 2-1 to Sporting Kansas City last Sunday, ending a five-match winning streak. Despite the defeat, the Fire (6-8-3) have made a solid turnaround since beginning league play 2-7-1.

Coach Frank Klopas, though, had to rest some of his regulars in Wednesday's 3-2 loss in an international friendly with Liga MX champions Club America as his team prepares for Sunday's contest.

"We had a stretch of a lot of games and for a lot of guys, it's been tough for their recovery," Klopas said. "We are going to have a tough stretch coming up of a lot of games and certain guys.

"It's all about the team. You build a squad throughout the season and you're going to rely on different guys."

The acquisition of Mike Magee from Los Angeles has paid dividends. He's scored in eight of the nine matches he's played for the Fire, including five of the six MLS games he's participated in after netting the lone goal versus Kansas City.

"Obviously picking up Mike was a huge acquisition for them," Vancouver goalkeeper Brad Knighton said. "He's a proven goal scorer in this league and he's deadly in any instance."

Chicago had gone 0-4-2 on the road in league play before Magee scored the winner in a 2-1 victory at Columbus on June 22. It won't get any easier at BC Place, where the Whitecaps are 6-0-3.

"It's going to be a tough away game," defender Austin Berry said. "We just have to keep working on what we've been doing to be successful."

Vancouver (8-5-5) beat Seattle 2-0 on July 6 at home to improve to 4-0-1 overall in its last five, and it is one of two teams - FC Dallas is the other - without a loss on its home pitch. Knighton's shutout helped him become the third Whitecaps player in the last four weeks to be named MLS player of the week.

"As long as we perform like we have at BC Place then everything should be fine," Knighton said. "It's about us taking the game to them and not sitting back and making mistakes."

Kenny Miller and Darren Mattocks scored for Vancouver in its last contest, ending a five-match scoring streak for Camilo. The Fire are well aware of how dangerous the Brazilian can be in all situations.

"He's a creative player," midfielder Jeff Larentowicz said. "He can create in open play and he's also dangerous on restarts. He's the full package, but if we take care of him then we know we'll be OK."

Chicago will be without midfielder Daniel Paladini, who will be serving a one-game suspension for a reckless tackle on Kansas City forward Dom Dwyer in stoppage time last weekend.