Rolfe trains with the Fire - Toronto FC ahead

Chris Rolfe participated in full training with the Fire this morning without his customary #17 which is currently worn by Pavel Pardo.  After embarking on a 9 hour direct flight from Copenhagen to Chicago on Monday, Rolfe took some time to unwind yesterday and arrived at training today sporting the newly assigned #18.  "It's good to see some familiar faces but just driving in and seeing the stadium I got butterflies.  It's a good feeling," said Rolfe after the Wednesday morning training session.

Only four players remain (Pause, Pappa, Nyarko, Segares) from the squad Rolfe left in 2009.  Although he hasn't watched much MLS action this season he sees no problem fitting in with the 2012 version of the club.  "It's my first training and I didn't get to see many games prior but I think it's going to be a good fit.  The guys in the middle are good players and Pavel Pardo is the man.  They play the ball on the ground and Frank is doing a great job dictating the way we're going to play and I'm a big fan of that," he said.

2009 Departure and 2012 Return

The Ohio native said the initial decision to leave MLS for Denmark in 2009 wasn't based on one single thing but rather a variety of circumstances including a desire to test himself overseas.  "There were so many variables in that situation.  But it was something I wanted to try when I was younger.  If I had the opportunity I wanted to try just to see if I was capable of playing at that level.  At the age that I was, I thought it would be a great experience as a person," said Rolfe.

Although there were trying moments, which included a coaching change and a tendinitis issue located in his upper hamstring which kept him out of action for nearly 11 months he feels that the experience in Denmark was something he would gladly try again if given the option.  "Overall it was good for me on and off the field.  I was there by myself and it really helped me to develop as a person and a player," he said.

"I learned some things.  The coach that brought me there was great and we had a change in coaches while I was injured so I got a taste of two completely different styles.  You have a lot of time to think over there since you're by yourself.  I reflected on a lot of things regarding the future, the past, my passion."

"I don't regret that move at all but it was a very difficult time for me with my injury and then the new coach that I was dealing with.  But I still wouldn't change a thing.  I think it bettered me as a person and gave me a different perspective on the field and off the field.  Coming back to a city like this I'm really going to enjoy it and take advantage of the opportunity that I have," said Rolfe.

When an opportunity arose to return to MLS and Chicago, he also felt it was time to make the move back stateside.  After some reflection and consultation with his agent and family the wheels started in motion last week.  "There were a number of reasons but I'm 29 now and I was over there by myself.  In terms of enjoying life and taking advantage of my time on the field we thought this would be the best opportunity."

"There were some teams that were interested in me over there and my current team, Aalborg was trying to re-sign me.  I talked with my agent and my family and thought this would be the best decision.  If we could make this happen and get back to Chicago it would be the best thing for me," said Rolfe.

Quick work

"We reached out to them (Fire organization) and if they didn't have interest we would have (looked at other MLS options) since there were some other teams that had been contacting my agent throughout the last two years," said Rolfe.  After reaching out and receiving a confirmation of mutual interest from the Fire the negotiations progressed quickly although the discussions were a bit complicated.

"It was a matter of days.  It's a difficult situation when you're negotiating with two teams at the same time.  My team at Aalborg was trying to re-sign me so it's not like they really wanted me to leave.  It's really great that both of those teams were willing to work together to allow me to go where I wanted to go.  It happened in about four or five days, Sunday morning I signed the official papers and took off Monday."

Back in Chicago

Rolfe was caught a bit off guard to find a group of Fire supporters waiting to greet him at O'Hare Airport upon his arrival on Monday afternoon.

"It was a great surprise because when I got on the plane the news hadn't been released yet and I think we were trying to wait until Tuesday to do it so I didn't expect anyone to be there.  It was great to see some of the Section 8 guys there.  Coming in from any sort of trip it's good to see people there and for me coming from another country and being gone for so long it was good to see someone there," he said with a grin.

Ready to go

Fire supporters will be glad to hear that Rolfe has arrived near the end of the Danish season and feels in form, healthy, and ready to help although he may need some time to adjust to the pace of play in MLS.  "Denmark is a little more tactical in a way, it's a little bit slower.  I think the MLS game is very athletic and very fast paced, at times maybe to a fault.  The Danish league was a little bit more organized in a way and some teams played more direct but there were a lot of teams that played a little more conservative," he said when asked to compare the two leagues.  Rolfe feels he's fit but may need to work on his endurance due to the pace of play in the US.

Where and when does he play?

Frank Klopas was pretty emphatic in stating that he feels Rolfe is best suited at forward while still maintaining that he can help the club in various spots.  "On top.  He's a forward.  That's where he's going to play. He's a quality player and he makes the team better," said Klopas.

The coach will have another option to call upon while trying to find the best possible eleven for any given match.  A good problem to have. "There are different characteristics and mixtures of players that you can mold together.  Depending on the needs and who you're playing we have different options," said Klopas.  "You can play different.  He's played out wide when Denis was here and he played left and right midfield in Denmark.  He's played on top, he can play as a second forward, he can play behind the two strikers, he can play out wide.  I think he's got the flexibility of a player you can play in different spots but for sure around the goal, you put him there.  He's very good around the goal and when he gets chances close to goal he's a guy that's proven in the past that the chances he gets he can finish.  He's very composed.  He's got very good feet.  Shoots well with both feet.  It's good for us because he can play different positions."

Whether or not Rolfe is an automatic starter he wasn't quite willing to say but the coach seemed bullish on his chances.  "We'll evaluate every day.  It's what you do in training and in the games.  We brought him in because he can help our team.  His attitude is fantastic and he wants to help this team," he offered.

Looking ahead to the match in Toronto this weekend, Klopas is cautiously optimistic.  Toronto is winless and pointless so far but that doesn't mean the Fire can walk in and automatically expect three points.  "In this league there are no easy games. It's going to be a difficult match.  We have to come out with the right attitude, play our game and stick to our game plan.  It's a good opportunity to come up with a result there," he said.

Rolfe may not start, but by the sound of things he'll surely be in the eighteen come Saturday afternoon.





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  • Excellent write-up, Guillermo! I hope I'm not over-hyping his return in my head, but I am real excited about this. It might just be the old wonderful memories of a few years ago, but I think this is a great move. He always made a goal-scoring opportunity out of nothing with his quick feet and quick strikes from anywhere. Further, I remember a lot of his goals coming from inside the 6yd box from low crosses and deflections from the keeper... he just always knew where to be, and it's something that will help Oduro while defenders are swarming him on a run. Whew!

  • In reply to RedLine55:

    Thanks Redline. He should be an excellent addition but I'd still like to see one more big striker added.

  • In reply to RedLine55:

    I know for me some of it is just remembering the good old days where I went to a game at home and always expected a win, no matter who we were playing. And Rolfe would score. I know that Rolfe wasn't the only factor for the wins then, and he won't be the only factor now. But that said, he was the top scorer for the Fire two season in which they made it to the playoffs. People complaining about needing someone who will score at better rate need to remember Chad Barrett started for MLS Champions/Supports Shield winners last year. Chad Barrett.

  • In reply to TomazPP:

    True.....but Barrett had Donovan, Beckham, Keane, Gonzalez, etc. as his supporting cast. ;)

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    My point is that strikers in MLS are hard to come by, to the point that the best team in the league had to settle on Barrett. They were still the best team in the league because of the supporting cast.

  • In reply to TomazPP:

    No argument there. A consistent striker is probably the hardest spot to fill in MLS....followed closely by #10 type playmakers.

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    I am willing to give him the chance to transform himself into a striker in this league. I think he can definitely finish Oduro's work. Rolfe has an eye for scavenging goals.

  • In reply to waam:

    I agree waam! I'm feeling good about the "logs" gathered for the Fire. Think this group could be something.

    Now I would like to see something we haven't seen in nearly a month. I would like to see the Fire in a normal game against MLS competition. No more friendlies. No more mile-high elevation tests. No more games played just to see what happens when soccer is played in torrential downpours with players pondering their functionality as lightning rods. How about just a regular MLS game against regular MLS competition so we can get a sense of what this team is become.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    Yes! Four games into the season and still don't really know much about how good they are or will be due to some odd circumstances. (don't forget unecessary bye weeks)

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    yes! ridiculous that montreal has 8 games played and chicago (and houston) only have 4 (actually 3 and 2/3)

    MLS scheduling is terrible

  • I spent most of last weekend trying to figure out why they would schedule that game on Sunday evening. Unless it's a guaranteed sellout, ANYONE knows turnout will be less on a Sunday evening than it would be on a Sunday afternoon. Also at this time of year storms are most likely to strike in the evening.

    MLS scheduling is not terrible. It's either intentionally maliscious, or performed by world-class boobs.

  • Same comments apply to the last previous game in Denver as well! Looking ahead at the Fire's schedule, it appears that unless a Sunday game is picked up by NBC or ESPN, it is held late in the day. I wonder if MLS shot themselves in the foot contractually. Did they obligate themselves to schedule all the other games at non-conflicting times? I'm not sure why they would do that. I don't think it would matter to NBC or ESPN much, if at all. And surely the league wants to maximize attendance. I just don't understand it.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    I could not possibly agree with you guys more. MLS does quite a few things that scream paradox, but the scheduling this year really takes the cake. Don't remember who said it, but I recall someone asking last weekend why on EARTH Houston and Chicago couldn't have faced one another during the bye week...since Houston already had a previous week bye, and Chicago started the season off with one. Both teams would've been more than happy to play, I'm guessing.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    I would think the reason the game was scheduled Sunday was to accommodate the national broadcast on Galavision.

  • In reply to iron81:

    There's probably some logic somewhere behind it all (meaning an explanation, but not necessarily a sensible one). But it's hard to see from a Fire perspective; two byes in the first two months, then 6 games in May including a 3-game week with trips to Portland and Columbus bookending a home game.

  • In reply to Mateu:

    Also take into account Seattle comes into Chicago next weekend coming off of a bye week while the Fire travel. Makes you wonder what the thought process is at MLS while putting these schedules together.

  • Marquez suspended a laughable 3-games, Chavez 1-game.

  • I'm sure the Villain Heads will protest. But I see Chelsea, Tottenham, and Liverpool coming to the states plus Roma and who knows what other top sides. How do we get stuck with relegation zone candidate Aston Villa?

  • In reply to Doug:

    The Blackburn Rovers turned them down.

  • Villain heads? they exist? maybe hauptman is a clost villa fan? i would have much rather played roma or even a team from germany.

  • Welcome back Chris! I sure missed seeing you in Fire Red!

    You did emphasize you are "alone" alot! My impression of the Danish girls is that are very friendly and uninhibited! LOL

    I'm hoping you and Oduro make a lethal combo up top with Nyarko and Grazzini in the mix as well and we start having multiple goal games for us not on us! LOL

  • In reply to smiley:

    Lol. How does that Section 8 chant go?

  • Injuries have always been the concern with Rolfe. The Sun-Times' Seth Gruen reports that he left training this morning with some sort of foot or ankle knock.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Any updates on the Chris Rolfe injury
    today during training??
    Hope he can play this saturday.

  • In reply to Juergen:

    Apparently Klopas didn't seem overly concerned about it. Rolfe walked off on his own power, and post-training Klopas said Rolfe would be in the gameday 18.

  • The thing about Chris Rolfe is his johnny on the spot knack for scoring. He has the ability to reflexively shoot quicker than anyone I have seen in a Fire uniform. There is no delay between him getting on the ball and the shot. He did get hurt a lot, but I always thought that that had to do with being a marked man in MLS after his rookie year when he stormed onto the scene seemingly out of nowhere. I am really excited to see him back. My kids learned to love the Fire by following Chris Rolfe and trying to immitate his goals every week. Can't wait to see him play again!

  • In reply to Krasov:

    I hope Rolfe and Oduro play well together
    starting tomorrow, and we are enterained
    with a Multiple Goal Chicago-Fire Win!!!

  • I know I'm threatening to jinx us. But, TFC is 0-5 and lost to Montreal. They must be due for good fortune and the Fire have tended to be goodhearted and generous in the past in bringing such providence. This game has me afraid.

  • Rolfe ruled out of the Toronto match with a minor ankle/toe injury. Could miss Seattle game.

  • Cue raspberry sound.

    This stinks.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Eh, I'd be more upset/worried if this was someone other than TFC. Against a bigger opponent, he'd be more of a factor. While the unthinkable *could* happen, and Chicago could give TFC their first win of 2012, I don't see it happening.

    Besides, how much more awesome would it be for Rolfe to make his return at TP instead of on the road?

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