As I mentioned in a comment, the debate going on about what Chris Rolfe's role should be for the remainder of the Fire's season has intrigued me. To say the least, the forward/midfielder has had an interesting start to the season.
Rolfe's year to date has seen him make only 5 starts in 13 matches, score 2 game winning goals, and log the best goals scored per minutes played ratio on the team. He has played in a variety of positions including, striker, winger, and center midfielder. What makes this interesting though is that all of this instability in Rolfe's season comes after a year in which he led the Fire in goals and made 23 starts.
Now, there has been a little debate going on as to what Fire Head Coach Denis Hamlett should do in order to maximize Rolfe's skills. Should he be used as a super-sub or a starter? Should he play as a midfielder or a forward?
Personally, I think that Rolfe should be used as a starting forward alongside Brian McBride.
1 - Rolfe has been one of the Fire's best goal-scoring threats all year
As I mentioned earlier, Rolfe has the Fire's best goals scored per minutes played ratio. He has tallied 3 goals in his 567 minutes, which puts his rate slightly ahead of Brian McBride's.
Also, Rolfe's 12 shots on goal give him by far the best shot-on-goal per minutes played ratio on the Fire. Really, this one isn't even close. Patrick Nyarko (who is second in this category) has 14 shots on goal (only 2 more than Rolfe) in 854 minutes (almost 300 more than Rolfe, that's over 3 full games worth of minutes). This is an important statistic for me, because shots-on-goal can really create chances. At the very least a shot on target puts pressure on the keeper and at best forces a corner kick or even a rebound chance.
Now, I know that a lot more goes into soccer than statistics, but I believe that these stats really prove Rolfe's worth to the Fire.
2 - Rolfe has played better as a Forward than as a Midfielder
As some of you noted in various comments, Rolfe has looked a tad lost in his role as a midfielder. Forward is certainly Rolfe's natural position and from what he's shown, he asserts himself into matches best when he plays up top. Rolfe has scored 2 of his 3 goals from the forward position and I believe the McBride-Rolfe tandem has given opposition defense a lot of trouble.
3 - Patrick Nyarko's (and the Fire's...) offensive woes
Although Nyarko is enjoying a solid season (you could even call it a breakout year for the young forward) his game has tailed off a little as of late. He did well in the Houston match, putting himself in great positions, but he lacked the finishing touch that is necessary for a forward to have. I think that at this point in the year, Rolfe (and the experience he brings) would serve the Fire a little bit better than Nyarko.
Also, with the Fire experiencing some offensive woes as of late, why not change the lineup a little bit? A new look certainly couldn't hurt the Fire attack, which has been shutout two games in a row.