The Copa America Centenario break is over for the Chicago Fire and the schedule is crowded once again.
The Fire survived the U.S. Open Cup opener against Indy Eleven in penalty kicks on Wednesday and have a quick turnaround to take on the Colorado Rapids in a return to league play on Saturday. Coverage on CSN+ begins at 7:30 with Fire Pregame Live.
There are a lot of reasons to think the Fire will have a tough time in Colorado. The Fire (2-5-5, 11 points) will be playing on two days rest after going 120 minutes with a near full strength lineup and will do so in Colorado’s elevation. On top of that the Rapids (8-2-4, 28 points) have the best record in the league and the Fire haven’t won on the road since 2014.
“We addressed how important it is to recover, what it takes to do that, how to sleep... and all these kind of things,” coach Veljko Paunovic said after Wednesday’s game. “That’s a challenge and we are doing our best. For sure we are using all our resources and all our experience to do that. I believe we will recover well for the game.”
Colorado also played in the Open Cup, but played on Tuesday at home and didn’t need extra time. However, the Rapids will be without two key players in Jermaine Jones and Shkelzen Gashi. Jones is still in the Copa America with the Americans, who are headed for the semifinals, and Gashi is playing for Albania in Euro 2016. Bobby Burling and Jared Watts will also be out for the Rapids.
The Rapids have given up just three goals in seven home matches and are 6-0-1 at home. The Fire have scored just twice in five road matches with a record of 0-3-2.
“Playing at home they are very, very confident,” Paunovic said of the Rapids. “I think in all lines they are a very, very well balanced team and they are winning games. Tough mentality and for us it’s going to be hard.”
For the Fire, Matt Polster suffered a concussion on Wednesday and will not play Saturday. John Goossens and Collin Fernandez, who have been out of action for weeks, will not return against Colorado. The saga around Gilberto is still ongoing and he will not play Saturday.
Chicago Fire at Colorado Rapids
When: 8 p.m. (Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live)
Where: Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, Colo.