An MLS team that found early-season success will take on one that hopes to have turned the corner when Minnesota United travels to play the Chicago Fire on Saturday night in Bridgeview, Ill.
Chicago (3-4-4, 13 points) had gone three games without scoring a goal before exploding for a 5-0 home win over the New England Revolution on Wednesday. Coach Veljko Paunovic hopes it was a precursor of what's to come.
Nemanja Nikolic scored the opening two goals, Nicolas Gaitan added a goal and two assists, and Aleksandar Katai had two assists in the rout.
"I am very happy with the way we played," Paunovic said. "Obviously a result is important but also to know who we are and where we are -- this is just the beginning of what this team is capable of. We know we have to fight to earn respect and fight our way throughout the season. No one is going to make it easy for us."
Minnesota United (4-3-3, 15 points) is coming off a 1-1 home draw with the Seattle Sounders in a game where coach Adrian Heath felt the team showed progress. The Loons began the season with three wins in their first five games, but they have just one win in the past five games.
"I thought for 25 minutes of the first half, that's probably as pleased as I've been since I've been here, as the coach," Heath said. "We've had some big results over the two years, but in terms of actually the group doing what was asked of them and moving the ball and our ability to keep possession and make it difficult for the Sounders, I was really, really pleased."
Heath is not looking at how Chicago started the season, but rather the recent win and the Fire's overall talent level.
"They've got experience in the middle of the park," Heath said. "They know the game inside out. But we've proved that we're a different proposition than we've been in the past. We're going to need all-out experience and our willingness and enthusiasm that we've shown in the last few weeks."