The Fire kicked off 2010 in style yesterday, sweeping their President's Day doubleheader by defeating the Vancouver Whitecaps 4-1 and the Arizona Sahuaros 1-0 in Phoenix.
Collins John and Stefan Dimitrov each scored twice in the Fire's victory over Vancouver, with John starting and getting his brace in the first half and Dimitrov replacing him and netting two goals of his own.
Rookie midfielder Drew Yates -- who the Fire drafted 29th out of the University of Maryland -- also shined, providing 2 assists in 58 minutes of substitute action against the Whitecaps. Yates replaced the Fire's first round draft pick, Corben Bone, after only 22 minutes (the friendlies were only 80 minutes long) when Bone had to leave after taking a hard hit from a Vancouver player. I've been told by contacts in the Fire front office that Bone, who shouldn't miss any time due to the injury, played well in his limited stint on the field, providing "good vision" while looking "crisp on the ball." On-trial midfielder Jaao Baptista and on-trial defender Mark Blades provided the other two assists. While the Fire's second match of the evening didn't end with as lopsided a score as the first, some positives can still be taken from the match. One such positive is the play of midfielder Marco Pappa. I've been told that Pappa was a handful for the Sahuaros throughout the match, coming out looking motivated and doing some serious damage. Chances of note that Pappa created include delivering a corner kick that Brian McBride headed off the crossbar and earning a penalty -- that John Thorrington converted -- by being dragged down just outside the 6 yard box.
Head Coach Carlos de los Cobos elected to use a 4-1-4-1 formation in both matches. Without seeing how the match actually unfolded, I can't tell you how high on the field the two wingers in the formation played (i.e., did they play like up and down wingers or like supporting strikers...) so I'll withhold my judgment on the formation. However, I will say that I'm not a fan of leaving a striker up top all by himself, even if that striker is Brian McBride.
I should be talking with Frank Klopas at some point today. I'll post his take on the matches as soon as I get done (hopefully) speaking with him. Feel free to leave any questions you have for Frank in the comments section below. As always, I'll do my best to work them in.