The Fire brass have to be happier after today's twin bill against the New York Red Bulls than they were following the team's first effort last week against a local college side. While pre-season results aren't really an important part of judging the roster at this point, the Fire got both results and several impressive individual performances during the preliminary "reserve" match and the main game featuring most of the projected regular starting eleven.
Several trialists made cases for themselves in the reserve match. Orr Barouch, the former Tigres U-20 player had a huge day scoring four times in the opener while Yoximar also played very well on the right side of midfield. Martin Rivas, Davis Paul, and newcomer Marko Maric controlled the middle of the pitch for most of the match against the Red Bulls bench. Maric, a 6'-2" Croatian box to box midfielder making his debut for the Fire, stood out based on his size alone. Another trialist, Kwame Obeng Darko also made his first appearance after joining the team earlier in the morning. The 4-2 win was followed by a 1-1 draw in the main feature.
Marco Pappa scored the only goal although he was stopped on a penalty kick by Buona Condoul. Patrick Nyarko was outstanding for most of the match causing headaches for the Red Bulls defense in similar fashion to his play during the first half of last season.
In an interesting note that has gone somewhat unnoticed, the Fire played in a 3-5-2 formation for long stretches in both games. As Sam Stejskal points out in this article, the formation was not only used during the main match but it was also used for most of the earlier reserve game with Kwame Watson-Siriboe playing in between Mike Videira and Pari Pantazapoulos in defense. Whether or not De Los Cobos continues to use it as the pre-season progresses will be an interesting side note.
DLC on ESPN radio
Carlos De Los Cobos appeared on ESPN Deportes radio program "Jorge Ramos Y Su Banda" later in the day and shared a few interesting tidbits during a lengthy and entertaining interview. Among the highlights:
- On Marco Pappa - "He's one of the better players in the league but I'd like to see him be more dynamic and he needs to improve his concentration during games."
- On Nery Castillo - "After the season Nery returned to Greece and perhaps it was more convenient for him to just stay in Greece. It was his decision to go back to Greece."
- On MLS in general - "One of the problems (in the US to date) has been the focus on players that are good athletes but not necessarily good technical players."
The full interview should be available soon at ESPN Deportes radio pod center.
I'll have more from Frank Klopas on homegrown players, the current roster, more possible additions, Marko Babic, etc. coming tomorrow.