Here are some notes from today's Fire practice....
**San Jose Preview: **
The Fire are set to take on the Western Conference's worst side -- the San Jose Earthquakes -- tomorrow night and despite the fact that the Earthquakes are to MLS what I am to writing correct headlines (that is to say, not very good...) the Fire are refusing to take them lightly.
"We can't go in there thinking we're big favorites," said Fire Head Coach Denis Hamlett. "We understand that this is a team that's coming in hungry for points. They're going to come out and compete and make it a real hard game and we have to go in with the mindset that this game really matters to us; which it does because we want to keep where we are on the table."
Tomorrow's game is the third in seven days for the Fire but the team is pretty confident that fatigue won't be an issue.
"It's always tough playing a couple games in a week but it's not that big of a deal," said Chris Rolfe. "We're pros, we can get through it."
As long as the Fire comes out with the right mindset tomorrow night (and I fully expect them too, Denis Hamlett has done a good job of keeping the team focused), they should have no trouble dispatching a pretty weak San Jose team. Of course, the last time a lowly MLS side came to Toyota Park the Fire didn't do so hot, playing their worst match of the season in a 3-0 loss to FC Dallas.
That said, I predict the Fire winning tomorrow night's match. The team has been playing good soccer as of late and I think this is the week where they actually get a win at home, where they have a league worst 7 points. I'll predict a 2-0 win for the Fire with goals from Bakary Soumare (he'll mash in a corner kick in with his head...) and Patrick Nyarko (he'll burn the backline for a breakaway...).
Center back Wilman Conde - who has been out with a hamstring injury - took part in the Fire's light training session today. He will be re-evaluated prior to the game tomorrow and is a game time decision. Should Conde be unable to play expect C.J. Brown to get the start in his place.
**Baggio's loving every minute of it:**
With midfielder Logan Pause with the U.S. National Team during the ongoing CONCACAF Gold Cup, a spot in the central midfield opened up for rookie Baggio Husidic, who - halfway through the year - is seeing the first extended playing time of his career.
Baggio has done well in his temporary (for now anyway...) starting role and he definitely appears to be relishing the opportunity.
"I feel like I've played well," said the UIC product. "It's been an exciting start for me. I've been working real hard in practice trying to get an opportunity and Denis gave me one and I think I've done well."
Head Coach Denis Hamlett has been impressed with Baggio's play in recent games.
"He's done real well," said Hamlett. "He's been solid all year in terms of just working hard and understanding and adapting to the speed of play. He's been able to hold his own and we feel good about it... it's been a very positive thing for us."
While Baggio is enjoying his recent success he wants to improve his game (especially on the defensive end) and he is committed to working hard.
"In college I kind of had the freedom to do whatever," said Husidic. "I really didn't have that big of a responsibility defensively and now [I have to] learn to adapt to the play and I feel like I've been doing that. Obviously to play at this level you've got to be able to defend wherever you play so I've been learning to read the game a little bit better."
That's all I have for now, hope everybody enjoys the start to the weekend and the Fire match tomorrow.