IMAGE: Patrick Rolfe

As D.C. United prepare to face the Chicago Fire this Saturday, former Fire standouts Patrick Nyarko and Chris Rolfe will be relishing the opportunity to suit up against their old club.  Neither has played against the Fire in Chicago since moving to the nation’s capital (Nyarko this January and Rolfe April of 2014). 

Nyarko, a former Virginia Tech star, spent eight seasons with Chicago, recording 19 goals and 39 assists in 196 appearances. In both 2010 and 2011, he led the Fire in assists, and was tied for fifth overall in MLS assists in 2010. A crafty winger with silky skills and blistering pace, Nyarko has the ability to blow by defenders with startling ease, but is equally adept at combining with teammates. He’s carried these traits--which made him such a consistent weapon for Chicago--over to his play with United, where he’s had an impressive start to his debut campaign. Nyarko has drawn 18 fouls thus far this season with his inventive dribbling (good for fourth overall in MLS), and made headlines with his April 2nd Goal of the Week-nominated header against the San Jose Earthquakes.

Rolfe, too, followed up on a highly successful tenure with the Fire with great play for the Black-and-Red. The Kettering, Ohio, native was a Rookie of the Year finalist in his debut season with the Fire in 2005, in which he also led the team in scoring. He remained with Chicago until 2009, when he began a two-year stint with Danish Superliga side Aalborg BK, before returning to the Windy City in 2012. During his time with the Fire, Rolfe scored 48 goals and notched 22 assists in 178 appearances. A versatile attacking player who can operate either as a withdrawn forward or out wide, Rolfe is known for his close control, technical ability and deft finishing.

In 2015--his first full season with United after an early-season move from the Fire in 2014--Rolfe was named team MVP after leading the Black-and-Red with a career-high ten goals (including five game-winning tallies). Rolfe has played one match against the Fire since his move to D.C., a 4-0 United home win in 2015 in which he started and played 76 minutes, posting three shots.

Having shared a dressing room first in Chicago and now at United, Nyarko and Rolfe are well-accustomed to each other’s style of play, and are often able to find each other on the field and combine cleverly to carve open opposing defenses. Now they’ll have the opportunity to work in tandem against an all-too-familiar opponent.