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Scouting Report: Chicago Fire

Taking a look at the Crew's opponent this week, the Chicago Fire.

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Fire come into Saturday's game with the Columbus Crew with a record of 2-2-6 with their wins coming in their last two games.

Two weeks ago, the Fire earned an exciting 5-4 victory on the road over the New York Red Bulls, who had not lost at home in almost a year, for their first win of 2014. A week later, returning to Toyota Park, Chicago used two first half penalty kicks from Mike Magee to beat a depleted Sporting Kansas City 2-1.

"It's a team that's bounced back from adversity obviously with their results as of late and they've been playing good," Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter said of the Fire this week.

"I've been watching them. Attacking wise they've been extremely good. It's a dangerous team."

The attack for the Men in Red begins with Magee, last year's MLS Most Valuable Player. On the season, the forward has four goals and two assists and leads Chicago with 24 shots.

"Magee is an elusive player," Berhalter said.

"I know him well from playing with him [for the L.A. Galaxy]. He's a guy that you can't quite get your hands on in terms of where he plays on the field. He positions himself really well and he has really good vision in terms of when to make the run and where the space is and then finding a pass."

Magee has not had to do it on his own this year, with help from rookie midfielder Harry Shipp and forward Quincy Amarikwa.

Shipp is a homegrown player out of Notre Dame who is the early leader for MLS Rookie of the Year. He leads the Fire in assists with four on the season and has already scored a hat trick in his young professional career.

"[Shipp's] a guy that I've admired for a while," Berhalter said.

"He was actually over at [Hammarby IF] training when I was I was in Sweden, so I know him well and I've always rated him highly. I think he's a good player. Again, similar to Magee, he's elusive, he shows up in the space, and gets the ball in uncomfortable spots for the defense and attacks."

Amarikwa came into this season with just seven career goals, playing for four MLS teams, but has five on the season this year. The forward puts himself in dangerous positions in attacking areas, causing havoc for opposing defenses.

"You've got Amarikwa up there," Columbus defender Josh Williams said.

"I kind of compare him to a Dom Dwyer type. He's just a bulldog; he's in there to mix things up. He's got five goals on there year, so he's got a nose for the goal and he's playing with a lot of confidence. That's something we've got to be aware of."

Chicago has not had problems scoring goals this year, but has had issues conceding. For the season, the Fire have put 19 balls passed the goalkeeper - tied for fourth best in the league - but have given up 19 as well.

Sean Johnson mans the pipes for the Men in Red. The five year veteran has already made 110 appearances for the Fire at just 24-years old and is in U.S. national team consideration for the next World Cup cycle.

Jeff Larentowicz could be a difference maker in this game. The MLS journeyman brings vast experience to the Chicago midfield and has already contributed two goals and two assists on the season.

While the Fire look to make it three wins in a row and jump over the Crew in the standings, the Black and Gold hope to build off last week's goal scoring outbreak and earn a win at home as they head forward into the summer months.