When the Fire visit Houston on Saturday (7 p.m. CT, TUDN, Univision), it will mark the first career matchup between two rookie head coaches–the Fire’s Ezra Hendrickson, and Houston’s Paulo Nagamura, who was one of three finalists for the Fire’s opening last fall.
Like the Fire, Houston has had a rocky 2022 thus far. They sit 10th in the Western Conference, with their last win coming back on May 22 over the LA Galaxy. It’s expected to be extremely hot. Afternoon highs will hit 101 degrees, and it won’t be much cooler by kickoff. Fire captain Rafael Czichos, who spent his career in the German Bundesliga before coming to Chicago earlier this year, said it will be the hottest game of his career.
Hendrickson said the Fire are ready for it.
“It’s been a good thing it’s been warm this past week in Chicago so we have kind of been getting prepared for that,” Hendrickson said. “We just have to be smart when we go there. They have been in that type of humid weather for quite some time now. So obviously they are going to be more conditioned to it than us, more used to it. But at the end of the day, you roll the ball out and we have a game plan that will maximize our physical ability to finish that game strongly.”
It’s unclear whether he’ll start, but Hendrickson confirmed the Fire will have the services of Xherdan Shaqiri, who missed the win over D.C. United after picking up a hamstring injury playing for Switzerland. They’ll be without several other key players, though–Miguel Navarro and Mauricio Pineda are both out undergoing health and safety protocols, and Jairo Torres is out again with the lingering hip issue he’s been dealing with since joining the Fire in early May.
Omsberg Surgery Update
Fire defender Wyatt Omsberg successfully underwent reconstructive surgery to repair torn ligaments in his left foot. There’s no official return to play date, but Hendrickson has said he expects Omsberg to miss more than three months–likely meaning the rest of the 2022 season. It’s a huge blow to both Omsberg and the team. The Maine native was having a career year, and cemented himself into the starting XI alongside Czichos before the injury.
It’s been awhile, huh?
This marks the first time the Fire and Dynamo have played since Sept. 23, 2020 at Soldier Field, a game the Fire won 4-0 off goals from Fabian Herbers, Robert Beric, Alvaro Medran, and CJ Sapong. The Fire haven’t played a game in Houston since Aug. 3, 2019–a 1-0 win with Nemanja Nicolic scoring the game’s only goal.
An old friend in a new place
When the camera pans to Nagamura’s bench, Fire fans might catch a glimpse of one of Chicago’s all-time greats. Zach Thornton, who made 215 appearances for the Fire between 1998-2006, is Houston’s goalkeeper coach.
How to Watch
Houston Dynamo vs. Chicago Fire
MLS Match Day #16 | Saturday, June 25 | PNC Stadium, Houston, TX
Kickoff: 7 p.m. CT
TV: Univision, TUDN (in Spanish, with English commentary available by using the SAP function)
Streaming: Twitter (English)
Fire Availability Report
- OUT: Chris Brady (international duty)
- OUT: Kendall Burks (right knee)
- OUT: Miguel Navarro (health & safety protocols)
- OUT: Wyatt Omsberg (left foot)
- OUT: Mauricio Pineda (health & safety protocols)
- OUT: Jairo Torres (left hip)
- OUT: Missael Rodríguez (left hip)
- QUESTIONABLE: Xherdan Shaqiri (right thigh)
- QUESTIONABLE: Carlos Terán (left knee)
Houston Dynamo Availability Report
- OUT: None
Next Up for Chicago
Wednesday, June 29 | Chicago Fire vs. Philadelphia Union | Soldier Field, Chicago | 7 p.m. CT, WGN-TV, CF97 Live
Sunday, July 3 | San Jose Earthquakes vs. Chicago Fire | PayPal Park | 8 p.m. CT, WGN-TV, CF97 Live
Saturday, July 9 | Chicago Fire vs. Columbus Crew | Soldier Field, Chicago | 7 p.m. CT, WGN-TV, CF97 Live
Wednesday, July 13 | Chicago Fire vs. Toronto FC | Soldier Field, Chicago | 7 p.m. CT, WGN-TV, CF97 Live
Saturday, July 16 | Chicago Fire vs. Seattle Sounders | Soldier Field, Chicago | 7 p.m. CT, WGN-TV, CF97 Live
The heat defeats both teams. 0-0.
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