Whitecaps FC-Fire Preview

NOEY KUPCHAN (STATS Writer)
The Associated Press

The defensively challenged Chicago Fire had been playing well before coming out with a horrendous display last week.

They'll try to bounce back against the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps, who look to snap a season worst-tying four-game winless funk Wednesday night.

The Fire (3-5-11) had allowed three goals during a 1-0-3 stretch before getting blown out 5-1 at San Jose last Wednesday. Grant Ward provided all the offense as Chicago suffered its most lopsided defeat of the year.

"We really can't take a lot from this game," midfielder Matt Watson said. "I think it will be best if we just put it behind us, because there are not a lot of positives you can take from it. We're going to try and put this one behind us and move on and kind of start from last week as opposed to this week."

Chicago ranks 17th in the league with 1.74 goals allowed per game and has recorded two clean sheets, the second-fewest in MLS.

While the Fire have posted the most draws in the league, Vancouver (6-4-10) is right behind them. The Whitecaps, 1-2-5 in their last eight, are coming off a third consecutive tie after playing to a 2-all result against FC Dallas on Sunday. Darren Mattocks gave the Whitecaps an early 1-0 lead and Pedro Morales tied the game on a penalty kick in the 53rd minute.

"It's a fine line this game, between winning and losing, and I think you've seen that today," coach Carl Robinson said. "We're that close, but we're that far."

Vancouver is 2-1-1 against Chicago after taking last year's only meeting, 3-1 at home.

"It will be a difficult game for us, but a game where we can rebound after the draw on Sunday," Robinson told MLS' official website. "I'm sick of draws to be honest. We'll be going to win."

Despite the Fire's latest result, Vancouver isn't taking them lightly. The Whitecaps, 2-2-6 on the road, have failed to score in two previous visits to Chicago.

"I don't think any game is a should-win in this league," defender Jordan Harvey said. "They're all competitive. There's so much parity throughout. It is on the road, there's a little bit of a flight here and we just did have a game, but I think we have the depth to put out a lineup that is more than capable of getting three points."

Another big effort from Morales could prove key if the Whitecaps hope to do just that. The Chilean native, who hadn't scored in six games before breaking through over the weekend, leads the team with seven goals and is tied for second in MLS with eight assists.

"I keep saying it every week, but he seems to be just getting better and better," Robinson said. "He makes players around him better and he's a joy to watch ... he does things with the ball that not many people are able to do."