Fire-Rapids Preview


The Chicago Fire have the same record through their first two matches as they did last season. Their next step is trying to avoid a repeat of what happened during the rest of that campaign.

Judging by the recent results in the series, a visit to Colorado on Sunday night could help the Fire build on their solid start while spoiling the anticipated debut of Martin Rivero for the short-handed Rapids.

Chicago followed up its season-opening draw at expansion Montreal with a 1-0 home victory over Philadelphia last weekend. Dominic Oduro scored his second goal in as many games during that victory, which helped the Fire mirror their results to begin 2011.

Chicago is probably hoping that's where the similarities to last season end. The Fire lost three in a row after their initial victory in 2011, went winless over a franchise-record 11 straight games and were 1-7-14 over the next 22 games.

"I believe we have the team this year to make everything right," Oduro said. "It's not going to be easy. We might fall short in some games, but we're going out there every game to get a win."

Chicago (1-0-1) will try to avoid its first loss by adding to its 3-0-3 record in the last six league games against the Rapids (2-1-0). The Fire are 1-0-2 during their last three trips to Colorado, drawing the last two.

They played to a 1-all draw last April at Dick's Sporting Goods Park and beat the Rapids 2-0 at home Aug. 27 with Oduro scoring one of those goals. That win was part of a 7-2-1 finish that left Chicago just four points shy of overtaking New York for the final playoff berth.

Colorado enters this matchup following a 4-1 drubbing at New York that denied it the chance to match its franchise-best start from a year ago.

The Rapids played that game without captain Pablo Mastroeni, who is dealing with headaches from a collision during a 2-0 home win over Columbus in the season opener. The midfielder played 76 minutes of a 2-1 win in Philadelphia the next week.

Midfielder Jeff Larentowicz served a red-card suspension in last week's defeat and forward Conor Casey is continuing to recover from an Achilles injury. Midfielder Jamie Smith is also out because of a torn right ACL, and defender Anthony Wallace is out for at least six months with a torn Achilles.

Colorado, though, will have some reinforcements soon with the recently signed Rivero, on loan from his Argentine club Rosario Central, and Kamani Hill having received their international transfer certificates. Rivero is expected to take over for Mastroeni in the starting lineup, while Hill could be available.

"I'm ready. I feel good," Rivero told the league's website. "I feel accustomed to Colorado. I lack a little rhythm in game settings, but that'll come back with game action."

The Fire will get goalkeeper Sean Johnson back after he allowed the match-tying goal against El Salvador that ended the Olympic hopes of the U.S. Under-23 team. It's unclear if Johnson or Paolo Tornaghi will start Sunday.

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