Matchday 14: FC Dallas at Chicago Fire

BRIDGEVIEW, IL - OCTOBER 12: Pavel Pardo #17 of the Chicago Fire collides with Jackson #6 of FC Dallas during an MLS match at Toyota Park on October 12, 2011 in Bridgeview, Illinois. FC Dallas defeated the Fire 2-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Brimstone Cup. It used to be one of the 3 or 4 stopdown games of the year for FCD/Burn fans, but now it's reduced to an awkwardly scheduled Wednesday night trip to the Windy City in the only meeting between the non-conference rivals. FC Dallas heads into the game at a disappointing 3-6-4 record with 13 points from 13 games while Chicago is a respectable 4-3-3 with 15 points from 10 games.

Game Notes

Streaks Collide FC Dallas is in the middle of a 7-game winless streak, one of the longest in team history, but they haven't lost to Chicago in five games. FCD has also never lost at Toyota Park, the home of the Chicago Fire. FCD has either won or retained the Brimstone Cup for 10 seasons in a row while Schellas Hyndman is 4-1-2 against Chicago all-time.

Absences Ferreira, Villar, Wiedeman, Warshaw, Lee, Ihemelu and Shea....whew....I've learned Castillo did not make the trip either while Zach Loyd returns from his suspension. Look for a backline of Loyd, John, Hedges and Benitez while the other big question is whether Rodriguez, or Leyva starts on the left side.

For Chicago When you look at the Fire, the goalscoring is probably coming from one of two areas, Dominic Oduro or Marco Pappa. Oduro leads the team with four goals while Pappa, a player capable of the spectacular, has two goals and two assists on the season while leading the team in shots. It should be noted that Chicago played in Portland on Sunday night, so no complaints from FCD for scheduling on this one.

Keep reading for keys to the game, form, referee and prediction

Keys to the game

Get Blas Service It's been enormously frustrating that the best service game FCD had, vs Seattle, was one of the two games Blas Perez has not been available. Dallas likely isn't going to win this game if Perez doesn't get involved and any time Blas plays a team for the first time you hope his tricks are able to get him a few chances.

Keep Possession in Midfield If Dallas goes with the AJ, Hernandez, Marcelin midfield again, they have a chance for success but possession must be retained and the passing has to be smart. The midfield did a great job defensively, but struggled big time offensively on Saturday and a lot of it was down to sloppy, hopeful passes. Either Hernandez or Marcelin has to take some responsibility in keeping the ball and stepping into the attack on occasion.

Second half Straight up, FC Dallas has been an awful second half team this season. No lead feels comfortable and FCD has given up more goals in the second half than most teams have in all their games this season. As lame as it sounds, a second half shutout is an admirable goal for Dallas tonight.

Form

FC Dallas - T L L L T

Chicago Fire - L W T W L

Referee

REFEREE: Hilario Grajeda. SAR (bench): Peter Balciunas; JAR (opposite): Kevin Klinger; 4th: Abbey Okulaja
MLS Career: 65 games; FC/gm: 24.3; Y/gm: 3.5; R: 14; pens: 9

Prediction 7-6 on the season

With only 10 games played this season, Chicago is a team we're still all figuring out, but they seem to be an upper-half MLS team. Dallas has never been scared to play Chicago on the road and any chance to end the winless run is one they'll relish. I can't help but remember the famous chant "Same old Brimstone, Dallas winning"...seems silly to pick FCD in this one given the struggles, but I think everything finally gets put together tonight. They've got to win one soon right?

2-1 FC Dallas

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