Rolfe returns to the Fire

The Fire have made it official.  Forward Chris Rolfe is returning to the club and will be available for selection this coming Saturday against Toronto FC.  After departing for Aalborg BK of the Danish Superliga in 2009, Rolfe scored 6 goals in 32 matches over three seasons although the injury bug that plagued him from time to time in Chicago followed him overseas.  If Rolfe can stay healthy he could prove to be a big addition to the club.

The Fire were able to retain his MLS rights by offering a qualifying contract upon his exit for Aalborg.  This is the same MLS rule that allowed Edson Buddle to return to the Los Angeles Galaxy without being subject to allocation.

Now the question is, where does Rolfe play and who makes room in the first eleven?  The tandem of Patrick Nyarko and Dominic Oduro has been dynamic at times but teams have figured out how to defend them and limit the effectiveness of their speed.  The Fire have become somewhat one dimensional in that respect and Rolfe gives them another technically sound player who can offer a different look at the forward spot.

A combination of Rolfe and Oduro up top should be fun to watch.  Rolfe provides a different element with more of a scorer's mentality than Nyarko does.  That being said, Nyarko still creates more scoring opportunities with good runs, clever passing, and the ability to draw fouls than any of his teammates.  He is also a player willing to work hard on both ends of the field.  Given that Logan Pause's main responsibilities are to help maintain order in midfield while aiding Pavel Pardo in the holding role it's easy to foresee Pause staying in the line-up with Nyarko either coming in as the first player off the bench or replacing the enigmatic Marco Pappa on the left side.

Pappa may certainly be one of the most talented players in MLS but his struggles throughout the first four matches of this season along with his continuing attempt to mesh with Sebastian Grazzini's game make the latter the more sensible of the options in my mind.  Rolfe won't solve all of the Fire's problems but his addition most certainly makes them better immediately.  Frank Klopas has some decisions to make but given the circumstances this is a good thing.

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  • fb_avatar

    I am the first to say it. THANK YOU CHICAGO FIRE!!!

  • i have a hard time thinking that klopas is going to bench pappa. makes the most sense but i don't think it will happen. unfortunately nyarko will probably be the one that is benched because god forbid klopas benches a fan "favorite".

  • In reply to penapirata:

    You have to believe he'll make the best decision for the club regardless of popularity. I just think Nyarko/Pause completing the midfield if Rolfe starts is a better combination right now.

  • In reply to penapirata:

    Pappa is no real fan favorite among our group. Outside of doing a flip, it seems he is a ballhog and doesn't like to stay on the flank.

  • very excited to have rolfe back, was one of my favorites before he left. it certainly adds great depth as a solid player will be coming off the bench. hopefully he adds enough of a different element to shake things up up top, though i'm afraid we still need a bigger signing for that 2nd forward position.

  • In reply to Drew:

    I'd still like to see another forward with more of an accomplished goal scoring history. Although Rolfe adds an element they don't have they still need someone who can threaten in the box on set pieces and can hold up the ball when necessary.

  • Never thought of Rolfe as much of a forward. How is Robayo going to get playing time now?

  • In reply to Adam25:

    It's going to be hard to come by. I never really saw him as a midfielder....he's always been more of an underneath or withdrawn forward to me. Hamlett did play him at right mid in 2009 with McBride and Blanco as the forwards and I never got the impression that he was a fan of playing in that spot.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Rolfe may not have preferred shifting to a midfield spot when he was here before, but he adapted pretty well. I agree that striker is his best position and the opportunity to play there should be wide open with this roster. When Blanco and McBride were here, there was hardly going to be a chance for Rolfe to see playing time at forward. No such obstacle now.

  • If you listened to last week's podcast, Jeff Crandall did mention that the team was addressing the need for another scoring threat. Now we know what he meant.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I remember this being a refrain of Klopas throughout preseason and beyond. Didn't someone even mention a former US international as a possible acquisition?

    Either way, great news for the Fire. I feel like Pappa's been running on fumes for a while now, and I don't think dedicated fans would be sad to see him be reassigned to a relief role off the bench. Rolfe is certainly a fan favorite, and Nyarko has gained a following as well. Don't think Frankie's going to poll the fanbase before deciding who to play, though.

  • I'm not the biggest Rolfe fan--but the Fire clearly need a finisher. Oduro and Nyarko have decent pace, but that hasn't resulted in enough scoring.

    I'm not sure if someone who only managed 6 goals in three years is that guy, but I was never able to see any Aalborg games so maybe he was used differently. On Aalborg's wikipedia page they have a figure with Rolfe playing midfield on the right side. Jeppe Curth was the number 10 in an attacking position, so maybe Curth was the go-to man.

    My main concern with Rolfe is the injury history. Does anyone know if he is recurring injury to the same part of his body, or is it more a flavour of the month?

  • In reply to Roti2000:

    He wasn't always at forward in Aalborg. He did spend some time at right mid as you pointed out.
    I don't believe he's had one recurring injury but rather a series of minor knocks (hamstring, ankle, etc).

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I have fond memories of Rolfe, especially when he had the hat trick. As with so many returning American players from Europe, just how injured is he? MLS: The Country for Old Men.

  • In reply to FrontRow:

    The injuries haven't been major although they have caused him to miss considerable time. He's only 29 though so he's in his prime now.

  • In reply to Roti2000:

    In MLS, Rolfe scored .37 goals per 90 minutes - just less than Dwayne DeRosario, Brian McBride, Fabian Espindola, and Jason Kreis, the same as Guillermo Barros Schelloto and Josh Wolff, and a touch more than Clint Dempsey and Omar Cummings. These are the guys he should be compared to since he played very little as a forward with the Fire. He also had .18 assists per game. That's a goal or an assist in every other game.

    I don't rate the Aalborg numbers too highly since he played at different positions, and had injury issues and coaching changes to deal with.

    If someone told me we were picking up a player as productive (in goal-scoring terms) as McBride or Dempsey, I'd definitely take it. They both have higher assist rates, but maybe that's why they ended up in England.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Oops, I meant he had .18 assists per 90 mins. My bad.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Interesting numbers.....I think he's more suited to forward as well.

  • Interesting article in the Tribune today regarding a poll gauging fan interest........

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/ct-spt-0417-blackhawks-fans--20120417,0,5849930.column?page=1

    Not surprisingly the Fire are a distant fifth, but it should be noted that the Blackhawks rating in 2007 was actually lower than the Fire's current rating.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    The improvement in the Fire's % interest from 5.9 to 9.1 is a 55% increase from 2006. That's a decent amount of growth, but you have to take into account 1) the construction of Toyota Park and 2) success on the field has been lacking for several years. Those two things should cancel each other out.

    DPs have come and gone, and we don't have anyone who's as big a casual fan magnet as McBride or Blanco now. TV coverage is different and radio hasn't changed much as far as I know (though I don't know the Spanish-language information, sorry).

    So how do we rate that gain over the past 6 years with no recent championship as a draw? Another question is how does it compare to other MLS teams? Guillermo?

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Compared to other MLS teams in terms of radio/tv or this market interest survey?

    The "interest" numbers are hard to quantify since the poll only took into account 4000 fans and singled out one target area in Chicago.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    One thing I thought interesting in that article is the mention of the various factors that have played into the hawks large popularity boom of late. One note was the large amount of marketable, young stars that they have. I think this is something that has adversely impacted the Fire as of late, in addition to their mediocrity. The Fire really don't have any marketable players for the casual fan, and would be wise to add one at some point (asap). Hopefully that player would be good too, someone like Blanco who put people in the seats and had an impact on the standings. The Fire don't have some of the history that the other teams in town have, so need to get the stuff that they can actually do something about right. Maybe after McDonough is through with resurrecting the Hawks he'd consider helping the Fire???

  • In reply to Drew:

    McDonough apparently doesn't like references to a perfect storm but they did have everything fall into place including some very fortunate circumstances. Oddly enough he did get his sports break by working in the front office for the Chicago Sting before eventually finding his way to the Cubs and Hawks so he's not completely foreign to soccer.

    By far the most important thing he did for the Hawks is getting them linked to WGN and the Tribune. The paper now is almost like an extension of the Hawks marketing department.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I wonder if that survey polled non-English speaking households? In Illinois about 21% of households do not speak English at home. You would likely have larger Fire numbers if they polled in proportion to the linguistic diversity in the area.

  • In reply to Roti2000:

    I suspect you are correct. 4000 is a pretty small sample in comparison to a market with the size and diversity of Chicago.

  • I wish that Hersh had provided a link to the full data. He writes that no pro US sports franchise has seen the level of growth in the last five that the Hawls have. I attended a Sounders game in 2007 when they were still in the USL and there were maybe 3000 people in the stadium. Today, there are 36,000 coming to every game. That growth is far bigger than that of the Hawks.

  • In reply to StaryByk3:

    The full data would be nice to peruse.....as usual mainstream sports writers lead pretty sheltered lives where only basketball, baseball, football, and hockey exist. ;)

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I have to say that coverage in the Trib is getting much better. They now have some non-game related stories (Nyarko re-signing, Johnsen in the Olympic qualifiers) and now, amazingly, have an MLS roundup section. The fact that the Fire was included in the chart in the printed edition shows that they are eking into the consciousness. The performance of the Hawks illustrates how powerful the traditional media still are. As GR has said before, the die-hard fan base for soccer certainly rivals that of the hockey.

    While applaudint the Trib, I have to say that the Sun Times seems to be slacking though on Fire/soccer coverage.

  • In reply to Doug:

    I don't read the print versions of either one but both papers have writers covering the Fire on a regular basis. Seth Gruen for the Sun Times and Jack McCarthy for the Tribune. Seth is new this season and Jack's been doing it for a long time. Former Sun Times beat-guy and Illinois Soccer Hall of Famer Len Ziehm is now writing a Fire blog at CSN....so they're out there.

  • Win an autographed Chris Rolfe clock (yes a clock) at the Fire's facebook page..........

    https://www.facebook.com/chicagofire

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    The clocks are left over from Rolfe's last stint in Chicago. They have been up in the online store all this time.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I guess its about time.

  • Posada speaks.

    In this series of short interviews with Crain's Chicago Business, Julian Posada and Javier Leon talk about the business of soccer in Chicago.....

    http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20120417/NEWS07/120419841/how-the-chicago-fires-deal-with-quaker-will-help-connect-with-fans

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    And yet Julian won't sit down with soccer journalists...... :)

  • FYI....you can now listen to and download the Fire Confidential podcasts on your smartphones or ipad via the Stitcher Radio app. Just search for Chicago Fire Confidential after downloading the app.

  • Looks like Torsten Frings will be available for Toronto on Saturday. He's listed as probable on the early injury report.

    Only Kinney and Gibbs are listed for the Fire.

  • Glad Chris Rolfe is back!!
    Now the Fire need to take a look at their
    Current Roster and say good by to the likes
    of Dube, Kinney etc.
    Saw the interviews with Posada and Leon.
    Wasn't at all impressed by them and it
    further convinced me they are "The Wrong
    Guys for The Chicago Fire."
    "Bring back Peter Wilt that will help Grow the
    Fan Base and increase the Media Awareness."

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Juergen:

    We got Rolfe back, I doubt we'll get Wilt back. Man, have we ever seen another GM do so well and get canned?

  • In reply to waam:

    "One Wilt is a Much Bettter Deal than the
    unproductive Leon and Posada dueo!!

  • Friedrich v. Frings

    This is it boys, this is Krieg!

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