Chicago Fire host SuperLiga 2010; First Game Tonight against Monarcas Morelia

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The World Cup in South Africa is officially over. However, in Chicago, soccer is just getting started. Tonight, at 8:30 PM CT, the Chicago Fire will kick off the SuperLiga 2010 against the Monarcas Morelia. The Chicago Fire and their home stadium, Toyota Park, will be one of four hosts for this year’s SuperLiga.

Every year, eight teams qualify for the SuperLiga tournament and are then split up into two groups. This year, Group A consists of two MLS teams (Chivas USA and Houston Dynamo) and two Mexican clubs (Pachuca and Puebla F.C.). Notable players from this group includes three U.S. National Team players from the 2010 World Cup roster: Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Herculez Gomez (Pachuca) and Jose Torres (Pachuca).

Joining the Chicago Fire in Group B is MLS Eastern Conference rival New England Revolution along with two other Mexican clubs (Monarcas Morelia and Pumas UNAM). Notable players from this group includes four members of the Mexican National Team’s 2010 World Cup roster: Efrain Juarez (Pumas UNAM), Israel Castro (Pumas UNAM), Pablo Barrera (Pumas UNAM) and Paul Aguilar (Pachuca).

By: Justin Mertes-Mistretta

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The Chicago Fire will be making their second consecutive appearance in the SuperLiga, losing to the Tigres UANL in last year’s championship game. Led by Mexican Head Coach Carlos de los Cobos, the Fire will be looking to improve upon last year’s finish by winning it all this time around. Their first game against Monarcas Morelia, semifinalists of the Mexican’s Tomeo Bicentenario 2010, will be a true test for the Fire, especially considering the current state of the team.

One major question mark for this team has been their inability to score goals on a consistent basis. As a matter of fact, they have only scored one goal in their past three games, going 0-2-1 during that stretch. If the Fire wish to break out of this mini-slump, they will have to get better production from star forward Brian McBride, who hasn’t scored a goal since May 27.

Along with inconsistent play on-the-field, the Fire have been dealing with a myriad of injuries. Most notably, speedy midfielder Patrick Nyarko was hurt in a collision with a Crew player on July 3. His status is in question heading into tonight’s game. Another hit to this team came when winger Julio Martinez left the team a couple of weeks ago. This forced coach de los Cobos to re-evaluate his roster, going with a different lineup 10 times out of the past 14 games.

If the Fire is going to have any success in this year’s SuperLiga someone will need to step up and lead a team that is reeling right now. That someone may just be star midfielder Marco Pappa, who was just recently named to his first all-star team. Pappa has been on a tear this season, scoring four goals in his past five games.

Pappa won’t be able to do it all on his own. Others will have to come forward during this year’s SuperLiga.

“The SuperLiga is a good chance for the players to showcase their abilities,” said coach de los Cobos. “All of them will want to play and the task will be to show that this is a good team.”

Read more articles by Justin Mertes-Mistretta here.

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