Friedrich out 3-4 weeks/Rolfe, Robayo news & more

After enjoying off days on Monday and Tuesday the Fire resumed training today ahead of a Sunday visit to Portland to face the Timbers, a team they lost to twice last season.  They'll be without central defender Arne Friedrich for a while though.  The World Cup veteran left Saturday's match against Sporting Kansas City with an apparent hamstring injury and a subsequent MRI revealed a Grade 2 strain.  The injury will keep him out of action for 3-4 weeks according to a team spokesman.

The expansion Timbers defeated the Fire in their opening home match at Jeld-Wen Field on a rain soaked slippery turf in front of a raucous crowd but Chicago has seen some drastic changes since then.   "Two completely different teams and two completely different years and we're not opening the stadium," said Fire captain Logan Pause comparing 2011 and 2012 encounters with Portland.  "Not to say that their fans aren't crazy and give it everything they have but since we're not opening the stadium (this year) there probably will be a little less energy than last time," said Pause.  "Different staffs, different personnel , that's (2011) kind of thrown out the window and we're approaching it as an opportunity to get points."

Frank Klopas will prepare for the turf and tight confines of the pitch at Jeld-Wen by conducting training this week on Toyota Park's artificial practice field.  "It's a game where he have to concentrate and stay focused because you don't want to give up any fast goals and let the crowd into the game.  The atmosphere and the playing conditions is something we need to take account of, we're going to training this week to kind of simulate the field conditions there," said Klopas.  He plans to "bring in the field a little bit" to match the Timbers 70x110 pitch.

"We're looking forward to the opportunities ahead but there's no easy games in this league," said Pause.  "I don't think their record is indicative of how good they are as a team.  Their home field is not an easy place to play, we opened that venue last year and we know it all too well," he continued.  Did Pause miss the pageantry of opening another stadium in 2012 given that BBVA Compass Field just opened in Houston?  "I think we're okay to let other teams open them up," he said with a laugh.

Rolfe return near?

Chris Rolfe did not participate in full training this morning but he did continue running laps while his teammates ran drills.  "I'm hoping every day that he'll have his shoes on and train," said Klopas.  "I've talked to the trainers and I was hoping that this week he could be on the field training and that's still the goal.  Hopefully, by the end of this week he's training with the team."

Robayo looking for a transfer?

In an interview with Colombia's El Enspectador, Rafael Robayo speaks about his time so far in MLS and claims that things are not what he expected.  Among the highlights, Robayo says he's bored with MLS and is waiting for the transfer window to open so that he can look at other options in more competitive leagues.  He's also open to a return to Millonarios although no conversations have taken place.

"I know it's a growth process but MLS is not what I was expecting," says Robayo in the article.  "I want to be in a more competitive league where the football is more like it is in South America and more importantly where I can get more minutes.  My goal is to play for the national team and I won't get there sitting on the bench.  I know I have the talent to be chosen but I need minutes in order for them to notice me."

"The league is very fast and strong but not very technical.  Good latin football is seldom seen.  Even the economics are different.  What I'm earning here is similar to what I was earning at Millos.  Also here, football goes pretty much unnoticed in comparison to baseball, American football, and basketball."

Why did he leave Colombia?  "Because I couldn't come to an agreement with Millonarios to continue and I thought it was a great opportunity to continue growing.  It was a good offer and I could live in a beautiful city," Robayo told El Espectador.

"I've got some very good options," he continues.  "I can go to Mexico or Europe.  The chance also exists that I could go back but the truth is I haven't spoken to anyone at Millos.  For now I'm going to enjoy playing in this league as much as I can."

After training this morning I asked Frank Klopas if Robayo had approached him with his displeasure or requested a transfer when the opportunity arises. Here's his response:

"No, I don't read Spanish.  MLS is a very, very good league.  It's a very strong league.  I don't know, you're going to have to ask Rafa but he's been very positive in training and he's had a very good attitude.  The team is a little bit different because there's a lot of depth in the team.  From my standpoint, it's good that you're able to go the bench and bring quality players in and you know the quality doesn't drop."

"(MLS) It's a very competitive and very strong league.  I think players and I'm not saying Rafa I'm just speaking in general terms, players that come from Europe have a very difficult time and it's always going to take some time for everyone to adjust.  It depends on what league you compare to," said Klopas.  In comparison to Colombia's Liga Postobon?  "I think that the league (MLS) is stronger personally, but that's just my opinion," said Klopas.

Robayo made it clear when he signed for Chicago that he was hoping to catch the attention of a Euro club for 2013 but the comments are a bit misplaced and slightly out of touch considering that he did not play well enough in training camp to earn a starting position.  Adjusting to the style of play in the league has been an issue but he has started to play well in substitution stints over the last three games.  You can't begrudge a player for wanting to play in the top leagues for top dollar but players coming into the league who aren't familiar with MLS need to realize that nothing will be handed to you just because you've played in a big club atmosphere.  You've still got to earn your way onto the field and up until now, Robayo hasn't done that.

He'd be best served by continuing to work in training, improving his game, helping the team win and everything else will take care of itself.  It seems that Chicago was always a one season stop for him and the frustration caused by a lack of playing time has spurned a desire to begin talking about options now.

More Euro options?

Speculation about Marco Pappa's future has floated across the old rumor mill since last season.  There are apparently no impending offers for his services but he has drawn some interest from at least two European teams.  One of them is not FC Twente, who was the main rumored destination this past January.  Feyenoord in the Netherlands may have an interest along with a German club.

Third kit rescue?

For the past several seasons Fire supporters have been demanding a third kit incorporating the City of Chicago flag design that was used back in 2005 but the organization for whatever reason has been reluctant to bring it back.  At last month's Town Hall Meeting, Fire owner Andrew Hauptman cited Adidas' concerns over a small order which wouldn't necessarily generate jersey sales more than a few hundred as a reason for not pursuing a third kit design.  Now it seems Section 8 Chicago has taken matters into their own hands.

After Houston broadcaster Glenn Davis announced that the Dynamo's third kit would be available in a limited run of 300 made by Adidas, the creative minds within the supporter's group generated a mock-up that they hope to get manufactured.  Check out the mock-up here.

Would you buy one?  Think it would sell more than 300 units?

My answer to both of those questions is undoubtedly yes.

Kinney still on the long road back

Steven Kinney isn't cleared for full training yet but a good sign was witnessed at training today.  The third year defender participated in more vigorous ball work on the side during practice and seems to have finally taken the next step on his long road to recovery.  He's still got a ways to go considering he hasn't played a competitive match since the last game of the 2010 season.

 

 

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  • US Open Cup 3rd Round Pairings......

    http://thecup.us/2012-us-open-cup-bracket/

    The Fire will play the winner of the Tuesday's Pittsburgh v Michigan Bucks match on May 29. If Fire PDL win next game they will face the Crew.

  • Great round-up, GR! Excellent balance of news and opinion, as usual.

    Robayo is an interesting case. He has been a good sub these past few games, and I don't think it's just coincidence that goals have followed his entrance in each one. Everything he said is pretty much correct; whether those things should be said in public are a different matter. Playing politics is one thing, but unfortunately this might backfire for him. If the right opponent comes along, I'd like to see him start a game and see what happens. Hopefully it won't necessarily be because of a Pause injury, though. If he goes to Mexico at the end of the season, good for him. But depending on the team, I don't think he'll find it much easier (physically) or a whole lot more competitive... whatever that means.

    Since the game Sunday is on turf we can pretty much get a Rolfe appearance out of our minds, right? If you've waited this long, no use bringing him back if he's not even training on grass yet.

  • In reply to RedLine55:

    I wouldn't count on Rolfe for this Sunday. The next home game against FC Dallas might be more realistic seeing that he's only had one full training session with the team so far.

  • Plus, if you're going to bring a guy back from an ankle injury, it's better to do it on grass than the fake stuff.

  • Odd question. To be official, does the 3d kit jersey need to have the Quaker logo?

  • In reply to Doug:

    I would imagine that any jersey from the Fire would have the Quaker logo on it somewhere. It doesn't seem we'll find out any time soon though.

  • so you think frank sticks to the 4-5-1 formation and same players minus arne?

  • In reply to penapirata:

    Yes....its working right now so he'll stick with it.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    so through 9 games 11 goals for and 10 against has me a little worried.

  • In reply to penapirata:

    I was noting the same statistic and felt a little concerned. But I think the trend is up. They are probably slightly better than that over the last 3 or 4 games and did that against some better competition. So I decided not to be alarmed after all. I'm hoping they nail these next three games and, maybe start to break out a bit in the scoring.

  • keep chris off that plastic stuff, but its great the team gets work on it....always got the dome too

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    Looks like I would have to buy another kit if they made it. Pure class look. Kinda wished our colors were red stars and baby blue after seeing that.

  • Chivas USA trade for Juan Agudelo and Danny Califf. Guess that come from behind loss to our Men in Red coupled with their bad start was enough to make a change. Has anyone contacted the Union and told them the goal is to get better and improve during the season? Not sure what's going on there though I do trust in Nowak.

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    Good trade for both Chivas USA and New York IMO. Chivas gets a good young player up front that they can pair with Correa and New York fuels their "win now" approach by getting a quality defender. Red Bull also picks up the ever important MLS mystery funny money known as allocation dollars which they can use to pursue another DP. They also get a piece of Agudelo's sell-on price if Chivas moves him to a Euro team.

    Chivas also replaced Pearce with Califf and didn't give up much to get him. Philly gets Lahoud and allocation money. I can only imagine that Nowak is stockpiling budget space for a big move to come. Califf was making $250K and Lahoud $72K......that's the only way that deal would make sense. If Nowak doesn't have another big move up his sleeve the SOB's heads will collectively explode.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Guess I didn't think about the salary considerations. Though I never considered Philly as a destination for a big name from Europe. Maybe another trade? Speaking of Europe, any word on Bocanegra and Rangers? It would suck to see him go to Philly should he be released at Rangers. Though, since my seats are next to the away supporters I say the more SOB's heads explode the better for me. They were awful to sit next to last year! The worst, Jerry, the worst!

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    I haven't seen anything concrete yet about Rangers and his future there but I'd guess he's staying put for at least one more season. I think his contract is up in June 2013 and he would be subject to allocation.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    You're a little late on the SOB's heads exploding. Nowak has been making similar deals for the last year, unloading useful veterans in favor of youth. They think the Philly FO is more interested in selling players for transfer fees than in winning games.

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    glad agudelo got out of NYRB. he wasnt getting any real match time there, didnt seem to fit into Backe's systems

    hopefully at LAchivas he can grow some more as a player & compete again for a spot on USMNT

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    Definitely a good move for Agudelo and USMNT!

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    I honestly believe that Chicago missed out on this trade. With perfect 20/20 hindsight this could have been a great trade for us just a couple months ago. The title would have read, "NYRB swap Agudelo for Conde." Oh well... you win some, you lose some, and you just flat out miss some.

  • Portland defender Futty Danso will miss the game this weekend after being suspended for a blow against Calen Carr on Tuesday night.

    Brek Shea will also miss FC Dallas' match against the Fire next Wednesday after being suspended for three games for kicking a ball at the assistant referee this past weekend.

    Roger Espinoza receives no additional punishment for his elbow against Grazzini on Saturday. I guess Vermes' appeal didn't quite work out though.

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    In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I think the replay soundly defeats any calls for an appeal.

    Anyway, I hear Michael Owen is available. He may have been an overrated player, but I believe he's got the goods for MLS, and would be clinical in this league. At 32, he's got a few good years here if he can stay healthy? What do you guys think?

  • In reply to waam:

    Owen is intriguing but the injury issue is a HUGE concern. It would be a big gamble to spend DP money on a guy that has missed as much time as he has due to injury. I think he's also looking to stay in the Prem somewhere.

    After Castillo the Fire are probably done with DP gambles. They need someone more reliable.

  • Carlos De Los Cobos has a new gig. He's now the head coach at Queretaro in Mexico.......

    http://futbol.univision.com/mexico/noticias/article/2012-05-18/carlos-de-los-cobos-dirigira-al-queretaro#axzz1vHO0aKlJ

    Good luck to him!

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