Fire defeat Louisville; Friedrich debuts

The Fire defeated the University of Louisville 1-0 in a friendly match this morning but the biggest story of the day was the game debut of defender Arne Friedrich.  The 32 year old World Cup veteran played very well in central defense moving freely, winning balls in the air, and vocally making his presence felt on the pitch.

"It was a good feeling but it was my first game after six months so definitely I need (to work).  We won which is most important," said Friedrich after the match.  "We have to improve, we know that but I guess it was a good test today," he continued.

When asked about his status for the Fire's next regular season match a week from Sunday against the Houston Dynamo, Friedrich feels that he's close to fitness but still has some work to do.  "(Next Sunday) is my target but this is what I said before, to be 100% I need some games to play.  I don't know (everybody) 100% yet because everybody moves his own way and it needs some time but I need games for my fitness.  Today I'm about 70% but the more I play it will get better," said Friedrich.

"You could see his experience in organizing and communicating", said Frank Klopas.  "I think he'll be ready.  That was our plan from the beginning so it was good to push him as much as we can in this game.  With every day that passes he gets physically stronger and better".

Friedrich and his teammates on the back line were very vocal throughout the match providing each other with instruction and encouragement.  "I have a good feeling with them and everybody can  learn, as well as me.  The most important point is that we know each other and everybody knows what the other thinks in the game.  Sometimes we have to talk a little bit more on the pitch but this needs time", said the German defender.

Klopas also stressed the importance of communication on the field not only from the center back position but from all players.  "It's important for someone to be vocal like that and communicate.  It's important, not only from him but for other players on the field especially with someone in the back with that experience that can kind of guide the group letting them know when to push up and when to withdraw, it's very important".

Sean Johnson, who played in last weeks reserve match against Colorado also started in this match.  Klopas is using these games to ease Johnson back into game day form.  "We have this and also the reserve match in Kansas City where he can get the minutes that he needs in game situations" said Klopas.  The coach was also not concerned with Johnson exhibiting a hang-over from the US-U23 Olympic qualifying loss.  "You just have to move on.  Whether you're a player or a goalkeeper you're always going to learn from difficult moments and get better.  Sean is a young goalkeeper and he's moved on with that", said Klopas.

As for the game.....Marco Pappa scored on a beautifully taken strike from the top of the eighteen in the 12th minute.  After Federico Puppo's initial shot was blocked, Pappa stepped in front of Puppo to gather the ball and placed a shot into the upper left hand corner past Louisville 'keeper Zach Torp.  The Fire played 21 different players in the match and will next face the Sporting Kansas City reserves on Tuesday in KC.

You can listen to Friedrich's post game comments here.

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  • Any stats on ball control today? It didn't look a whole lot better than the Colorado game to me. The defense looked pretty good. Don't think I saw Grazzini in the game but think I saw him on the sideline warming up. The midfield still misses his presence.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    They don't keep possession stats for these games but it was miles better than Colorado. Louisville hung in there and played a good game but didn't have one decent chance really.

    Grazzini was indeed warming up before the game and on the sideline. He is certainly a key figure offensively.

  • GR, it seems to me that the next steps re player acquisition needs to be a midfielder that can do what Grazzini can do because he has shown he cannot play throughout the season. The second targer (pardon the pun) should be a target striker. Are there any rumors/stories/nibbles for us to think about until next weekend when can actually watch them play again? Happy Easter/Passover everyone!

  • In reply to Krasov:

    There's been talk from Klopas that they're looking at a few guys in the striker department for the July transfer window, but nothing specific yet. As for Grazzini, the more this season moves forward, the more I think his penchant for bouncing from team to team will continue,mand he will not be back for the second half of the season. Grazzini is a fantastic playmaker, but he's been stagnant and half-hearted most of the first 3 games this year. Still, it's early, and the Fire's schedule hasn't exactly been conducive to building any kind of run or momentum yet.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    Like Jeff wrote, there have been rumblings about continuing to look for another striker. There may be players available in July who they will pursue if they still believe that position needs an upgrade. Klopas mentioned right before the season started that there were players they were interested for the transfer window.

    It's still early and I'm not ready to write off Grazzini just yet. His skill provided the pass for the first goal in Montreal and he was excellent in the first half against Philadelphia. The Colorado match wasn't a good outing for anyone. That being said, I think he's got to show that he's going to be ready and available when they need him to play in order to earn that contract extension because he does indeed want to stay in Chicago and that includes playing through tweaks and twinges.

  • I'd like to see Orr Barouch get some major minutes. He seems to score every time he gets limited minutes at the end of games. Not sure why he doesn't get more consideration.

  • In reply to Bumsteer:

    I agree, I would like to see Orr Barouch on
    top with Dominic Oduro, then we have
    speed and a target Guy who can shoot.
    I also would like to see Corben Bone in
    midfield maybe in place of Papa for a
    game he has a shot and moves and
    willing to share the ball.

  • While I don't disagree with either of you, I think it's unrealistic at this point to think certain guys are going to get the nod over others. Ideally, I think giving some of those guys a shot would be an interesting look, I just think there's no way on earth Pappa and Pause aren't in every starting XI they're available, short of intl. duty or injury. Klopas isn't going to remove a healthy Pappa or Pause in place of Bone or moving Nyarko to the wing, and he's not going to separate Nyarko and Oduro up top unless a target striker comes in during the July transfer window.

    While he hasn't done himself any favors up to this point in the minutes he has gotten, Robayo being relegated to a reserve spot in place of a tenured Pause speaks to this louder than anything. The move of bringing in someone like Robayo from his old club is akin to if Klopas would've sat Grazzini and Pardo last season after they came into the club, which I would think most would see as unthinkable.

  • It is unfortunate that Pappa is an automatic choice for the first XI. He has no concept of how to be an effective winger and this messes up the Fire's spacing when they attack. His excessive dribbling and wandering into the middle of the field crowds Grazzini and Pardo out of the space that they need in order to do their jobs.

    Does anyone ask Frank about his tactical choices when he meets with the media? Are the media people too afraid to ask these questions, or are they simply not sufficiently well versed in soccer tactics and don't know what questions to ask? (I heard one guy ask Frank what he thought of Tornaghi's performance after the Philadelphia game, to which Frank replied, "I thought he was solid." Riveting stuff.)

  • In reply to StaryByk3:

    He is asked about specific game situations, subs, tactics, etc and he usually does answer, but I doubt you're going to hear him throw a player under the bus.

    Of course you're going to get the occasional softball tossed out during a post game press conference when there are 15-20 media people sitting a room.

  • GR, I don't expect Frank to throw any player under the bus. But it is a legitimate question to ask about Pappa and his reluctance to stay wide, since he is listed as a winger. And If Frank is giving him the green light to roam into the middle, it's also legitimate to ask him why. And then the follow-up question would be why the Fire then choose to play a formation that lacks the width necessary to spread the other team's defense.

    I would absolutely love to hear the answers to those questions. Will you ask him on Sunday?

  • In reply to StaryByk3:

    Sure.

  • I agree with most of the above comments regarding seeing Barouch on the field more than so far and the great Houdini disappearing act by Pappa. If this season ends up like last year we'll know who to throw under the bus.
    The two first games were o.k. but the third game against Colorado
    was dreadful, and the effort against Louisville looked like an AYSO
    game on occasion.
    In the addictions field there is a concept of "magical thinking"
    that is always trying the same thing but expecting a different result.
    That's why the natives are getting restless. If Pappa doesn't
    want or doesn't have the mentality to play the team game then
    adios. Look at Barca, if you don't play Barca style, you're history
    even after one season. no matter how big of a star you are.

  • Here's a good start on radio presence:

    ESPN Deportes radio (97.5) will debut their new weekly call-in program "Juega Con Fire" hosted by spanish pbp announcer Jorge Guzman this Wednesday at 11:30am.

    You can listen on espndeporteschicago.com and iheartradio.com (which also has a mobile app).

    If you've never heard Guzman call a game on radio, he's a solid play by play guy. Listen in....even if the only words you can pick up are "Fire". ;)

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Guillermo-
    Have any of the Spanish language TV stations considered running English translations across the bottom like SAP. That would be awesome and probably really boost viewership. I get the flavor without the analysis unfortunately.

  • In reply to Bumsteer:

    Not sure if it's ever been tried. I don't think I've ever seen it but I would think it would help.....makes no sense to televise a national game of the week that's available to the masses only in Spanish. That's never made any sense to me since it limits the potential national viewership. I understand why it's done.....I just don't agree with the concept.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    You're right, Guillermo. It's a concept. One that's so obviously flawed, anyone caught buying it should immediately be placed on a strict spending allowance with weekly reviews. How do such foolish people come to own and operate a sports franchise?!?

    If they intend to succeed in this market they have to play to mainstream America. No offense to the Hispanic community but they aren't gonna hook that fish trolling in the Hispanic market.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    I was actually referring to the concept of MLS' spanish only national telecasts. I don't see a problem with the Spanish language radio program, but while we're on that topic I still cant fathom why there isn't an English version on the airwaves somewhere.....it's 30 minutes per week for crying out loud. The local sports radio talking heads waste at least 30 minutes a day talking about their fantasy baseball teams, trying to make each other laugh with inside jokes, and other assorted immediate channel-changing nonsense.

    There are two FM news outlets along with numerous viable AM signals that should be dying for a bit of variety in programming particularly on weeknights and weekend days.

  • The Fire are running a weekly contest on their FB page which gives fans a chance at some free stuff.....

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150805272499789&set=a.132606759788.135655.20210009788&type=1

    Just answer the question correctly.

  • From the Fire's twitter feed...........

    Defender Cory Gibbs underwent surgery Tuesday on a tear to his right meniscus suffered in training last week. Update coming.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Really sorry to hear this, both for the team and for Gibbs. He's been a real mainstay for a while now. The addition of Friedrich takes on even greater significance. Good luck to Cory on his recovery and rehab!

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