Saturday, August 7, 2010

Fire-Red Bulls tilt heavy with anticipation

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- One year ago, the New York Red Bulls were the laughingstock of MLS, and Sunday's matchup would have been a dud on the Chicago Fire's calendar. But things have changed dramatically since then.

A combined five designated players could take the pitch and Toyota Park possibly will have a sellout crowd on hand when the Fire host New York in a match jam-packed with anticipation (8 p.m. CT kickoff, ESPN2).

The Red Bulls have taken full advantage of the league's designated player rule using the three-player maximum: Juan Pablo Angel, Mexican National Team captain Rafael Marquez and Frenchman Thierry Henry. The Fire recently brought in two designated players in the past several weeks in Nery Castillo and Freddie Ljungberg.

"It won't be easy because they strengthened the team with new players like Henry and Rafa Marquez," Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos said. "But if we want to qualify, we need to show that we can win these kinds of matches."

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