CHICAGO (3-2-1) vs. DALLAS (3-3-1)
ESPN2, 8 p.m. ET
Let's hope the Brimstone Cup rivalry livens up the ESPN2 national telecast more than the Rocky Mountain Séance between Colorado and Real Salt Lake, a 1-1 tie with no cautions and just about as much passion, did last week.
Chances are, it will. Both meetings last year were 3-2 thrillers, with FC Dallas winning both of them. The Fire has been beaten in its last two, 3-1, on the road, and is back at Toyota Park, where it has won both of its home games. Last year, though, it lost at home to Dallas.
Kenny Cooper broke out of a four-game goalless streak by scoring the first goal of a 2-1 victory at Kansas City that featured a strong first half by FC Dallas in the debut of central midfielder Pablo Richetti. He will support playmaker Ramon Nunez in a four-man midfield that moved the ball and controlled the tempo impressively against the Wizards, with Juan Toja and Dax McCarty handling the flanks.
Keeper Dario Sala looked very sharp in his 2007 debut last week against Kansas City, making nine saves and losing a shutout in stoppage time. He had sat out the first six games of the season serving a suspension and his sharp saves kept Kansas City off the board until the final minutes.
Fire forward Chris Rolfe is in good scoring form - a four-game goalscoring streak -- but an ankle sprain may limit his minutes. Coach Dave Sarachan does get back midfield anchor Chris Armas, whose absence last week enabled Toronto FC to dominate the middle after Diego Gutierrez was sent off shortly before halftime. Whether Sarachan gives Justin Mapp a start in Gutierrez's absence will indicate the Fire mindset after losing two straight by combined scores of 6-2.
Chicago needs more incisiveness and consistency from Tiago, who in 326 minutes has yet to log a goal or an assist, and Ivan Guerrero, who has the same scoring stats in 481 minutes. Chad Barrett scored two goals in the first three games of the season but hasn't netted since.