Storylines to Watch:
McCarty and Solignac have returned from injury
Over the last few games the Chicago Fire have seen two key pieces rejoin their lineup - midfielder Dax McCarty and forward Luis Solignac.
During last Wednesday's U.S. Open Cup game, McCarty played 55 minutes after missing four games rehabbing a hamstring injury. The 31-year-old returned to MLS play over the weekend, putting in an 84-minute shift against the New England Revolution.
Luis Solignac earned his first start since March 17 as he returned to action on June 2 against the San Jose Earthquakes. He picked up an assist in that first game back and also featured in the most recent match against the Revs.
Fire head coach Veljko Paunović was first to admit that it means a lot for his squad to have McCarty and Solignac back following the Fire's 1-1 draw with New England.
“It’s very important for the team that Dax and Lucho are back," Paunović said. "I think they did great with managing their minutes for both of them. It was very helpful to see Dax’s leadership on the field and helping Bastian (Schweinsteiger) with his goal and the organization of the play. Overall he’s a very important presence for us.”
Nikolić may sidelined for Wednesday's game
Reigning MLS Golden Boot winner Nemanja Nikolić was forced to exit the Fire's game on Saturday against the New England Revolution in just the 13th minute with a head injury. After the game, head coach Veljko Paunović informed media members that he was being monitored by team medical personnel, but was hopeful that he would be available for selection against the Rapids.
“He needed to be interviewed by our medical staff. We were waiting for that situation to be solved, but unfortunately took too long and the team was suffering too much, and we had to make the decision to put in a substitution," said Paunović. "We don't know yet if he has symptoms of a concussion, which it could happen, but doesn’t look like it. It’s mild. We’ll see where we stand tomorrow. We hope he’ll be ready for Colorado and will get some minutes there.”
Nickolić's injury comes just days after his midweek brace in the U.S. Open Cup against Columbus Crew SC.
Player to Watch: Aleksandar Katai
Just 14 games into his first MLS season, Chicago Fire newcomer Aleksandar Katai is proving to be a quality attacking piece in Paunović's squad. Katai has played a part in seven of the Fire's 21 regular-season goals, scoring four and assisting on three. Two of those goals and three of the assists have come in the past five games.
Despite a slow start in the beginning of 2018, Katai has quickly gained trust and praise from the Fire's captain Dax McCarty, who has been impressed by the 27-year-old's recent performances.
“It’s easy for everyone to see that Katai is one of our more dangerous players in the attack, if not our most dangerous player in the attack,” McCarty said. “When we lost David Accam, Katai was a guy that was brought in to replace that production and that danger. It took him a while to get going and now I think you’re starting to see the best of him and how dangerous he can be.”
Keep an eye out for Katai in Chicago's attack on Wednesday night.
Colorado Rapids vs Chicago Fire - Head-to-Head
The Rapids have met the Chicago Fire 42 times in the MLS regular season, resulting in a 14-19-9 record. The Fire currently sit just below the red line in the seventh spot in the East with a 5-7-3 overall record. The Rapids, meanwhile, are coming off a 2-0 loss in Houston that sees their season record sit at 2-9-2 overall.
The last time the two sides met was in May of 2017, with the Fire cruising to a 3-0 win over the Rapids at Toyota Park following goals from Nemanja Nikolić (2) and David Accam.
The Fire have the edge in the overall head-to-head series, but have only walked away with a win in three out of their 20 visits to Colorado.
- Head-to-Head Overall: Colorado Rapids 14 wins, 52 goals | Chicago Fire 19 wins, 66 goals | 9 ties
- Head-to-Head in Colorado: Colorado Rapids 10 wins, 32 goals | Chicago Fire 3 wins, 21 goals | 7 ties
- Previous Meeting: Chicago Fire 3, Colorado Rapids 0 (May 17, 2017)