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Fire-Red Bulls Preview
By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN
(AP) -- The New York Red Bulls are not happy about three straight afternoon home games in the humidity of the Northeast.
Coach Hans Backe will likely compensate with major changes in the middle contest of this stretch when the Chicago Fire visit Red Bull Arena on Wednesday.
Backe and star forward Thierry Henry were vocal in their complaints before this set of games began with a 2-all draw against Seattle on Sunday. The Red Bulls (9-5-5) host Philadelphia on Saturday.
The coach said he will rotate his squad. Henry, who played 90 minutes Sunday, claims he wants to start all three games but that doesn't seem likely given the conditions. Forecasts call for temperatures to reach the mid-90s.
"It's kind of way hotter there," Henry said about Red Bull Arena. "The stadium keeps the heat, I don't know what it is but we're going to have to see how it is."
Another New York forward who played 90 minutes Sunday was Sebastien Le Toux, who scored in his debut with the club after being acquired Friday from Vancouver.
"The last two days have gone by so fast that I didn't even have a chance to think about it," Le Toux said. "My mind was really off. It was pretty crazy, but it felt good to get a goal in my new uniform."
A third forward also played the full game against the Sounders in Kenny Cooper - second in the league with 11 goals. Henry is tied for fifth with nine.
New York is one of two unbeaten teams at home with a 5-0-3 mark.
Chicago (9-6-4) has had some extra rest after a 1-0 home victory over Vancouver on Saturday. The Fire do not play another MLS match after Wednesday until July 28, but have an exhibition home game against English club Aston Villa this Saturday.
The visitors are also aware of the conditions they'll face with the afternoon start time.
"It is what it is," Chicago midfielder Logan Pause said. "I think we train out here every day in the heat, and it's going to be no different. Obviously both teams are coming off games over the weekend so that factors in."
Chicago is one point behind New York in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. The Fire won 3-1 at home over the Red Bulls on June 17 but have totaled four goals in five games since - still managing to go 3-1-1.
Henry and defender Rafa Marquez missed the first matchup for the Red Bulls. Marquez will not be available again after leaving in the 21st minute Sunday with a left calf injury.
The Fire will be without defender Arne Friedrich, sent off in the 69th minute against the Whitecaps. Chicago was ecstatic about holding on after Pavel Pardo's ninth-minute goal.
"You get a red card, and it's amazing how it changes the game," coach Frank Klopas said. "The guys worked very hard in the end."
Chicago, 6-1-3 in its last 10 against New York, has matched its 2011 victory total as it seeks to end a two-year postseason drought.
"We're not happy for nine wins if we don't get to our goal at the end of the season," Klopas said.
Updated July 17, 2012