D.C. United at Chicago Fire
Where: Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill.
When: Saturday at 8:30 p.m. Eastern
TV: NewsChannel 8
Records: United 8-16-4, 28 points; Fire 13-9-6, 45 points
D.C. probable starters: GK Bill Hamid; Ds Chris Korb, Steve Birnbaum, Kofi Opare, Nick DeLeon; MFs Paul Arriola, Marcelo Sarvas, Russell Canouse, Luciano Acosta, Zoltan Stieber; F Deshorn Brown.
Chicago probable starters: GK Matt Lampson; Ds Matt Polster, Johan Kappelhof, Jonathan Campbell, Brandon Vincent; MFs Juninho, Dax McCarty, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Luis Solignac, David Accam; Fs Nemanja Nikolic.
>> Small, good things on offense: United’s attack has generated so few goals this season (MLS-worst 23), the club will embrace any glimmer of positive offensive news. So there is this: D.C. has scored in four consecutive matches for the first time. Own goals, of course, were responsible for the first two games. Since last month’s roster shake-up, opportunity has risen (18 shots and eight corner kicks last weekend in a 2-1 defeat to Orlando). First-choice striker Patrick Mullins has yet to score this year.
>> Injury updates: Left back Taylor Kemp, sidelined since Aug. 12, underwent groin surgery Thursday and will miss the remainder of the season. Nick DeLeon has started in his place the past four matches. Midfielder Patrick Nyarko remains out with a concussion, suffered July 22 against Houston. He’s not expected back this year. Right back Sean Franklin will miss the Chicago trip after exceeding the league’s yellow-card limit. Chris Korb and Chris Odoi-Atem are the prime options.
>> Hamid is all over the place: Goalkeeper Bill Hamid, United’s longest-serving player in his eighth full season, has been a busy man. Despite missing five matches (one for injury, four while on U.S. national team duty), the DeMatha grad is second in the league is saves (92) and has faced the fifth-most shots (124). Orlando’s Cyle Larin ended his shutout streak at 315 minutes last week. Hamid’s contract expires at the end of the year, and despite months of talks, the sides have yet to strike a deal.
>> Scouting the Fire: The Fire is third in the Eastern Conference, comfortably in playoff position and five points behind New York City FC for a first-round bye. Since winning a club-record nine straight at home, Chicago has gone three consecutive matches in Bridgeview without a victory in slipping to 10-2-2 at Toyota Park. Nemanja Nikolic is tied for second in the league with 17 goals, two behind NYCFC’s David Villa. Midfielder Michael de Leeuw is serving a yellow-card suspension.
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