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Fire preparing for two different versions of Crew

Updated: October 23, 2012 6:10AM



When the Fire hosts the Columbus Crew on Saturday at Toyota Park, coach Frank Klopas and his team aren’t sure which Crew team will show up on the field.

In their first meeting, a 2-1 Fire loss in Columbus on May 26, the Crew pressured the Fire high up the field from the kickoff.

When the Fire beat the Crew 2-1 at Toyota Park on June 23, the Crew took more of a defensive shape, hoping the Fire would make mistakes that would allow a counterattack.

So Klopas has done what any coach would do and created two game plans.

‘‘We’re ready for both situations, so we’ll just see how they approach the game,’’ he said. ‘‘Obviously it’s an important game for both teams.’’

If recent history is any indication, the Crew might use its home-field strategy on the road. The Fire likes to play out of its back four, which has prompted teams to apply heavy pressure not only for their own offensive purposes but to throw the Fire off. The Montreal Impact did so in last Saturday’s 3-1 Fire win, which caused the Fire some problems early and allowed the Impact to score the game’s first goal.

The Crew is desperate for points as it looks to claw its way into the playoff picture. It’s sixth in the Eastern Conference with 45 points; the Fire is in second with 50.

‘‘We play at home, and I guess we should dictate the game,’’ Fire center back Arne Friedrich said. ‘‘This is our target, and of course we have the players for playing counterattacks.’’

NOTE: An Ohio coroner says Crew midfielder Kirk Urso, 22, of Downers Grove died in August of a genetic defect of the heart and the death was considered natural.



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