Fire Head to San Jose - More Change Coming?

Headed to San Jose with not much more than pride on the line, the Fire are saddled with another batch of possible injury issues.  Freddie Ljungberg, Bratislav Ristic, and Gonzalo Segares were all held out of a short training session this morning before boarding a plane for California (read Sam Stejskal's wrap up here).  Nery Castillo will miss his second consecutive match with what has been identified as a quad injury and did not travel with the team while Mike Banner also was left home with an achilles issue. 

From the sound of things it appears that the Fire are coming to grips with the reality of missing the playoffs and are looking to find time for younger players against San Jose and possibly FC Dallas on Saturday.  Carlos De Los Cobos implied that Dasan Robinson and Kwame Watson-Siriboe will be the pairing in the middle and Steven Kinney will return at right back.  Corben Bone may even get an extended run.  What would a line up infused with youngsters look like?

Defensively, the Fire need to find out what they have in Watson-Siriboe given that CJ Brown may retire and Wilman Conde's status for next season is up in the air.  Regardless of what Watson-Siriboe shows in the remaining six matches, center back is a position that needs to be addressed at some point in the off-season with a reliable addition.  Right back is also another area of concern.  Steven Kinney has shown well at times but he lacks the pace to be a top caliber right back.  Both Kinney and Robinson are serviceable at right back but an upgrade here could be considered as a secondary need. 

Things get really interesting at midfield.  Marco Pappa and Patrick Nyarko have both flashed moments of brilliance but the reality is neither one should be considered a player to build your franchise around.  Both are young with room to improve and will continue to be productive but only if the right mid-field general is found heading into next season.  Freddie Ljungberg's addition provided a brief spark but his game is much too similar to that of Pappa and Nyarko to formulate a truly effective midfield.  All three players look to dribble on the run first before passing and employing the one-two touch system that De Los Cobos is attempting to implement.  More often than not Fire attackers were stationary on Saturday night while one of the trio attempted to dribble through multiple defenders.  The Fire are very easy to defend while these three are dribbling in circles. 

It's not hard to figure out why both Pappa and Nyarko both appeared to play better early in the season.  Injuries and call-ups aside, both had the freedom and room to operate before Ljungberg and Nery Castillo arrived.  All four players need the ball at their feet to be at their best.  Pappa and Nyarko have not figured out how to be effective without the ball and there simply has not been enough time to make it all work. 

Adding Corben Bone to the mix as a central attacking midfielder will provide yet another line up change, but at this point....so what.  The Fire need to find out which players will be protected in the upcoming expansion draft and which young players are willing to step up given rare game action.  For all of John Thorrington's hustle and bite, he's just not an acceptable solution as your first attacking option out of central midfield.  He's not a particulary proficient passer and doesn't look to shoot when presented with the opportunity.  He's also not suited for Logan Pause's holding midfield position due to his propensity for hard fouls in dangerous areas.  Pause, even with his shortcomings is still the best option at the "holding" spot but this is an area that will also need a long look during the winter. 

The Ristic/Pause combination contemplated last week was scrapped in favor of moving Ristic to right back because of injury.  Ristic seems to be willing to run at defenders and distribute the ball like a central midfielder so why not gather a look (other than in training)? 

The forward position should be priority number one when addressing needs for next season.  There is currently noone on the roster who instills confidence when presented with a finishing opportunity.  At this point Castillo has shown close to nothing and hasn't provided much reason to be hopeful that the Nery of 2007 will resurface.  Calen Carr managed to provide a little room to operate with speed against Seattle this past weekend but Carr isn't much more than a change of pace substitution. 

Collins John is under contract for another season so the organization needs to know now if he's going to be worth keeping for another year.  Ljungberg has played most of his minutes in the withdrawn striker role although it seems that he's more effective as a central mid.  Will we find out if he can form any sort of connection with Ljungberg?  Will De Los Cobos even be here next year to ponder any of these decisions?  It's going to be a busy offseason.

Vs. San Jose

The Earthquakes are playing their third game in seven days on Wednesday night so there may be some advantage with tired legs.  I wouldn't mind seeing a line up consisiting of Kinney, Watson-Siriboe, Robinson, and Segares in back with Pappa and Nyarko on the wings and the Pause/Ristic combo in midfield.  Bone can either start or come in at the half if Ristic isn't cutting it. 

If Ljunberg is the best option at the playmaking forward spot (which he currently is), then let's see if he can get anything going with Collins John.  Although Ljungberg has a player option for next season it's still very possible that he could not be back in a Fire kit in 2011. 

FIFA 2011

Forget Madden.....September 28 is the day I've been looking forward to in terms of video game goodness.  I'm not very good at it but the game itself is great to look at.

Comments

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  • Need to find guys like this.........
    http://www.mlssoccer.com/news/article/sabor%C3%ADo-wants-stay-rsl-permanently

  • is Baggio ok to play? I thought he was one of our best players in the beginning of the year

  • In reply to lijien:

    He's ok but did not make the trip

  • In reply to cesba:

    I think Husidic is a very serviceable center mid/part time starter. He would be on my keep list for next season.

  • In reply to cesba:

    CJ has served the Fire with distinction from the start, however it is time to seek greener pastures and pass the torch to the next generation while he still has some dignity. Thanks CJ for all the effort, it is truly appreciated, but it is time.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Agree with that entire post. We need to see what Bone can do and we certainly need to scout South Americans where the biggest bang for the buck can be had. RSL and Dallas both have several fine players on their rosters and at prices Chicago can easily afford, especially after the required clean out next season. If we get this retool wrong we may be looking at several seasons of futility.

  • In reply to cesba:

    http://msn.foxsports.com/foxsoccer/mls/story/De-Los-Cobos-a-bust-in-Chicago

    I'm glad nationally they realize what a dismal reality this team is facing. I acutally miss Denis Hamlet...a lot!

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    Wow....very surprising to see Ives write a negative article about the Fire and the decision to dump Hamlett. ;)

    Hamlett did such a great job and was in such high demand that he managed to beat off a slew of competitors for this plum job.......
    http://www.iit.edu/departments/pr/mediaroom/article_viewer_db.php?articleID=420

  • In reply to cesba:

    good place for Hamlett, a small soccer program that is known for engineering. I wonder ITT tech in Indiana has a soccer team in case that IIT gig doesn't pan out.

  • In reply to cesba:

    even frankflopas chimed in on the comments there

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    Some thoughts on Juan Pablo Angel's situation...

    http://www.nj.com/redbulls/index.ssf/2010/09/giase_red_bulls_must_decide_if_juan_pablo_angel_will_be_part_of_rebuilding_process.html

  • In reply to cesba:

    Maybe the Fire should try to sign him, probably has two more decent seasons, probably could get him for +$500,000 or so without the DP tag. Without Brown & McBride, and if they dump Castillo and Freddie, the Fire should be in hog heaven, could pick up several quality
    DP players.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    $500 would make him a DP though...regardless I would seriously consider this if it becomes an option.

  • In reply to cesba:

    How about Cooper or Omar Cummings to go with Angel with the forward position in the free agent?

  • In reply to longoria3:

    Cooper is an interesting thought but who knows whether or not he'd look to get back into MLS at this point (he's also recovering from an injury). Omar Cummings is wishful thinking - Colorado wouldn't allow him to transfer anywhere inside the league. Typical free agent rules as you see them in other sports don't apply in MLS.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Cooper would be an interesting thought but his injury would be a risk to take especially they took a gamble with Castillo and Ljungberg. Cummings is out of the question but I can't imagine New York letting Angel go; him and Henry are dangerous on top. It would be nice to him but Fire won't do it.

  • In reply to cesba:

    When Blanco was with the Fire at one point he said Fire need more midfielders, I think he's right. A good midfielder will play anywhere on the field, if not attacking then defending. I truly don't know which one of our midfielders can do that. I think Fire will keep all GA players. Will look to figure out the D and who will be good in their position. I haven't been impressed by anyone but I see their potential. The team hasn

  • In reply to cesba:

    For those who may have forgotten here's what the guy who used to cover the Fire every day had to say about Hamlett's firing....

    http://blogs.chicagosports.chicagotribune.com/soccer_redcard/2009/12/after-12-seasons-with-the-fire-hamlett-is-no-longer-still-right-here.html

  • In reply to cesba:

    Man, first Deny, then TI? Luis makes friends every where, huh? Lesson here? Don't mess with The Luis or you get the jail, or IIT...well, same thing...

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    Lesson to be learned......Don't mess with the heat.

  • In reply to cesba:

    This should be great comedy.....unintentionally
    http://fourfourtwo.com/news/restoftheworld/64222/default.aspx

  • In reply to cesba:

    Blanco doing some acting...ROFL!!!!!

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    I agree in much of what he said, but I think he over estimates Hammlet's ability.
    Only thing that Hammlet would have done is provide a tad more organization
    and perhaps maybe secured another win or two, but under him, the Fire would be
    pretty much where they are now.
    However, the Busch decision in the long run may be a good one, but the way it
    was handled was atrocious, causing a certain degree of unsettledness to the club
    house. No wonder the Fire started out so tentatively and still are.
    The main thing Busch brought to the team was a degree of leadership, particularly
    on the defense and it shows on the field.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    Thankfully, the only reason the Busch move is panning out is the emergence of Sean Johnson. If you look at it on it's face, management thought Andrew Dykstra was a better option in goal, and how any one would look at his play in the first couple of games and see his insecurity in handling even a simple cross and think, "this is my guy", is either blind or out of their mind. Whether Dykstra was the better optionor the cheaper option, it was the wrong decision. Hammlet's teams always built the attack from the defense with talented wingers and the defense has been suspect at best all season for the reasons we all know (lack of consistency, injury, Conde losing his mind or being a petulant child, etc), so I'm looking forward to seeing this rumored Dasan/Kwame match up with Segares and Kinney on the wings. Dasan had a quality game in center before, I'm hoping he and Kwame build a quick chemistry.

    P.S. - Guillermo, I'm glad you caught my sarcasm about missing Hammlet. He was a good coach, but I don't think either he or DLC are the right man for the job. I just hope they don't bring Preki's crazy ass here...

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    I agree.....No thanks on Preki.

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    I don't necessarily disagree with the criticism of De Los Cobos, but I don't quite get the beating of the drum for Hamlett. To say that this team was just as talented as Hamlett's squad over the last two years is just not accurate. Ljungberg, Castillo, and Segares weren't here until mid/late July, their best defender has played foolishly all season, and despite some early flashes Ljungberg is certainly no Blanco.
    This is also the second time he's painted Hauptman as "meddlesome". An article earlier this year compared him to Al Davis.
    I'm pretty certain this team would be no better with Hamlett in charge.

  • In reply to cesba:

    I agree because we are playing the same formation as we had under Hamlett. It looks the same out there as it did under The Menace. The only difference is that we can't finish. We are still TERRIBLE on corners, free kicks and crossing the ball. We can't really make a pass to a teammate. We are not very good. I really feel like we need to let the ownership and the players know that this isn't good enough. The whole team was terrible on Saturday. I know we all love the players but giving up late goals isn't good enough. It's laziness and that needs to be dealt with. I think the fans need to "boo" more often.

  • In reply to cesba:

    that first conversation on this thread made me want to make an early selection of the 11 players I'd like to keep heading into the expansion draft:

    1. Husidic
    2. Johnson
    3. Kinney
    4. Nyarko
    5. Pappa
    6. Pause
    7. Ristic
    8. Robinson
    9. Segares
    10. Watson-Siriboe
    11. Bone? Conde? John?

    This list doesn't make me feel that we have a very talented group to move forward with. I'd protect Conde I suppose, but I have a feeling he wants to move on or get paid more than he's worth. It should be a very very busy offseason for the FO. What do you all think of this list? What changes would you make?

  • In reply to Drew:

    I've been trying to save this conversation until the end of the season because we may have some more info on a few players contract status but we can probably start now.

    Bone and Johnson are Generation Adidas so they won't need to be protected. Husidic is also GA but he may be considered a graduate of the program by draft time.

  • In reply to cesba:

    I think we should wait on this too.

  • In reply to cesba:

    I think the problem is DLC wants to play 1 and 2 touch and we have players who like to dribble.. so he needed to adapt to what he had , rather then force a style that isn't working..

  • In reply to cesba:

    Wynalda lands a gig.....

    http://www.goal.com/en/news/1884/north-america/2010/09/28/2140047/eric-wynalda-named-president-of-international-operations-for

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