Fire prep for another Eastern Conference battle, Pappa talks rumors, and Grazzini trains

The Fire returned to training at the Toyota Park practice field on the heels of three consecutive wins against Eastern Conference foes but face another test on Tuesday with a trip to Houston.  The Dynamo are in the fifth place only four points behind Chicago and Frank Klopas is expecting another difficult match on enemy turf.  After a confidence building win in Kansas City with game time temperatures over 100 degrees more of the same can be expected in Texas.  "It's going to be a difficult match on the road with the heat conditions and (Houston's) a very good team.  They do play direct also and they're a team that's very dangerous on set pieces.  There's no easy game but that's what we live and train for," said Frank Klopas after training concluded.

Klopas was happy with the win in Kansas City but is emphasizing that there is still much work left to be done.  "We just have to keep going but it's just one game.  Obviously it's an important win because it's an Eastern Conference team that's in front of us but it's a long road ahead.  We can't get comfortable or relax," said Klopas.  "We're not there (yet), it's a long way to go.  It's just another step moving forward and we just have to keep improving as a team and stay focused," he continued.

The fact that the club has compiled 8 wins with the season nearly half way completed is a good sign but his long term goal remains in focus.  "I'll be happy when we're in the playoffs at the end of the season.  I'm happy about progress and I look where the team is and the thing is we can't get comfortable and relax at any point," said Klopas of the team's current standing.  "We know what our goal is and we have to do everything possible to reach our goal.  When we do, we can take a little bit of a step back and evaluate everything," he said.

Injury/Player Notes

  • Arne Friedrich was removed late in the match due to cramps and the staff will evaluate him over the next few days.  Klopas did not sound too concerned about the German defender.
  • Chris Rolfe's ankle was stepped on and he spent a few anxious moments on the turf in KC but he should be okay after going 90 minutes for the first time since coming back to the team.  "When he turned his ankle I was worried that it was the same injury but thank god that it wasn't," said Klopas.
  • Rafael Robayo may have suffered a separated shoulder after taking a hard spill shortly after entering the match.  "He hurt his shoulder and there may be a dislocation.  We're not quite sure but I give the guy a lot of credit because he's been coming in (to games) in difficult situations and showing his class.  He got hurt early on but stayed on and played through the pain and actually helped us in those tough moments in the game to get a hold of the ball and calm the game down," said Klopas.
  • Klopas was happy with Alex's first game action although he said he didn't catch his brief glimpse of Brazilian flair near the touchline late in the game.  "I think he came in with no fear and with belief in his abilities.  I thought he did well.  He showed that he's a guy that can help the team and one that we can count on," said Klopas.
  • The head coach also commented on Sean Johnson's recent excellent form and building confidence after several acrobatic saves that earned the club a victory in KC.  "He's always had the ability to make saves like that.  He has that.  He's quality.  I think other parts of his game are getting better.  Managing the game in the situations (like) when to play quick and when not to.  His presence in the box and his command is getting a lot better coming out but in that game he made some world class saves," said Klopas.
  • Klopas feels the struggles and aftermath of the Olympic qualifying loss is no longer a factor for Johnson.  "It's all about playing.  When you don't play and I felt that he was put into a difficult situation and sometimes you have to in games like that.  I feel that from a mental standpoint he's back.  Everything in the past is behind him," he said.
  • Federico Puppo returned to training with a wrap on his right ankle.

Grazzini Story Continues

Sebastian Grazzini went through full training but Klopas was still non-committal about his status for the Houston game.  When asked if Grazzini would travel to Houston his reply left things up in the air.  "We'll just have to see.  Seba trained today but we just have to see where he is mentally and knowing that we're playing (Tuesday) and have other games coming up.  It's a long season and we're going to have to rely on everyone," he said.  "We'll see.  Everybody's healthy other than Rafa (Robayo)."

Grazzini politely declined to comment in detail only saying, "Things are not easy," before leaving the practice field.

Stay tuned.  It seems this saga isn't quite over.

Pappa Addresses Rumors

Reports out of Guatemala cited a move to Dutch side FC Heerenveen this weekend but Marco Pappa says any talk at this point is just a rumor.  "I heard about the rumors but right now there's nothing.  I still have a contract with the Fire and there's nothing new.  I'm trying to find a better opportunity for me to improve in my career but there's nothing right now.  It's only a rumor," said Pappa.  He says his focus at the moment is on continuing to play hard and making the playoffs.  "Right now I'm working hard for the team," he said.

 

 

 

 

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  • A source close to the team says Grazzini will not travel to Houston.

    Saga not over.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Big surprise. I really think the Fire are going to transfer him.

  • i know everyones been blaming the Fire FO for the grazzini situation, but i have been wondering if its grazzini thats the source of the issue. ive heard snippets about family issues and maybe he misses home or something? not that i can blame him for that, but can't blame the Fire organization either, if thats the case

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    On another note...

    I know Guillermo hates to hear this but... If the Fire are this good, does the eastern conference really suck this bad? Because really, I have seen much better soccer than what Chicago can play, and yet they are right up there in the East.

  • In reply to waam:

    Lol.

    What are the examples of much better soccer in the East? Every one of the clubs will have some ups and downs because the reality is that there just isn't a big spread between the top teams and the middle teams in MLS.

    DC can score but their defense is questionable. New York's defense was also terrible to start the season. Sporting isn't as good as their start to the season indicated. I never said the Fire were the best team in the East but always thought they were a legit playoff contender.

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    In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I meant soccer in general.

    We don't necessarily play defense collectively well, we aren't world beaters at controlling the ball, our forwards are not convincing or scary... yet, we are sitting pretty decently at #4 in the East.

    Parity is exciting sometimes, but honestly to me... Parity in MLS is getting pretty dull. I just got done watching some soccer this weekend between club teams, and the U18 teams played with impressive tactics and awareness, and then the U13 came out, and there was a steep drop off in organization and just about everything else. I feel this is my one problem with parity in MLS. It's not like the NFL where the best teams get better and they in turn create parity, we are STUCK in parity because nobody can retain their best players to Europe. Does anybody see this as well? I know there is hardly a thing we can do about this either, or is there?

  • In reply to waam:

    I disagree with you on the NFL. They're all about parity. The biggest difference is that the bad teams there are REALLY bad. We just came off a year where a team with 9 wins won the Superbowl.

    Are you saying U18 soccer is better than MLS? There is good soccer played in MLS but because of the economics of the league it's not going to be consistently good in every game, every week, all the time. That's not to say that every big Euro league match is a piece of art either. There is some downright unwatchable stuff going on at the lower end of Serie A, La Liga, and EPL too from time to time.

    As far as MLS, I think some of the issues are part of the growing process associated with a league that's only 16 years old and doesn't have an unlimited source of funds for which to acquire all of the best players. There will be no easy answer for the financial stuff until the league figures out how to begin maximizing TV dollars....and that's going to take some time.

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    In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    No lol, U18 is not better than MLS! haha.. I was saying U18 is better than U13.

    Yes, not all Euro games are easy to watch as well. But we'll have to disagree on the NFL thing. I do believe that NFL clubs have the option of the best football players period. As where MLS clubs do not have that option, therefore, I believe NFL parity is of a higher level than MLS parity. Just my opinion.

    Rolfe has made an instant impact in games he's involved. Can one player really have this much impact on a division? I hope so.

  • In reply to waam:

    Just yanking' yer chain on the U18s.

    NFL has the monopoly on the best football players but they've structured the league so that anybody can beat anybody in the playoffs.....or in other words parity however it's sliced.

    The recent success is more than just Rolfe. This team has been together for a year now and it takes time to grow consistency.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    As much as I love the Fire and like MLS, I think these type of DP's and players are the best were going to get. Players at the end or the very beginning of their careers. You are told that you are going to get this amount of money and it cant get any higher because of the salary cap. We wont renegotiate a contract in the middle of the season even if you are our most dangerous player. When a mid 20 year old is playing in Europe and has a choice to go to a top level team or come to MLS and chooses MLS thats when players will start to notice. Thats why the league is the way it is. Alexi Lalas was right when he said that any team in MLS can win on any given day. Thats because all the teams have equally crappy players. I have a really hard time watching other MLS sides play because their touch is terrible, you never see more than 5 passes to feet and the speed of play is so slow. I hope things change soon but I dont see it happening for a long time.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Speed of play in MLS is faster than it is in many other leagues around the world. When you listen to comments made from foreign players one of the first things they mention is speed of play. Technical ability is behind but speed of play isn't an issue.

    When critiquing the overall quality of the league of course it's substandard when compared to EPL, La Liga, and the other top leagues because they've got a 50 plus year head start on MLS and American development. Its going to take time to catch up. There's no other way around it since the money to speed up the process isn't there yet. You're right it's going to take a while but I'm not discounting the level of play as crappy.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Watch MLS back in 1998, the quality it is in slow motion. Back 10-12 years ago players weren't as fast as they are right now. Don't tell me that leagues like Chile, Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salavador, Peru, Educador and Uruguay is better than MLS. Sure, the quality of the EPL, Bundesliga, La Liga, Dutch, Serie A and Ligue 1 is better due to the fact they have 3rd/4th generation players, team history, longevity of head to head rivalries and tradition along with large salaries without a salary cap like MLS has right now. Even though MLS isn't in the ranks of high caliber type leagues that I have mentioned but I can compare MLS in the ranks of the Belguim Pro League, FMF (with money), AFA and the Danish League. MLS is going through first generation of players like Keller, Friedel, McBride, Harkes, Ramos, Wynalda, Lewis, Lalas and Meola and it passed on by Donovan, Dempsey, Howard, Bocanegra, Bradley, Altidore and Adu. MLS implemented each team to have youth academies that have been around for 8 years; it is going to take some time and people expect overnight results. The league is learning mistakes from the old NASL with franchises went bankrupt, over expanding, no development of young/American born players and without a players union. Don Garber has done a terrifc job controlling the league and taking a conservative approach.

  • Clarence Seedorf signed with Botafogo in Brazil today. He would have been a good addition to MLS despite his age.

  • More rumors out of Guatemala claim that Heerenveen will submit a formal offer to the Fire for Pappa in the next few days.

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    In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Would you consider them a bigger club than Chicago?

  • In reply to waam:

    I terms of Euro exposure and a bigger pay day.....yes. They also finished fifth in the Eredivisie and qualified for the Europa league.

  • With River Plate promoted to the Argentine first division the Fire are interested in striker Fernando Cavenaghi since the club is not pursuing a renewal of his contract.

    Cavenaghi has no shortage of offers however, with interest from England, Italy, Argentina, and Brazil. He would be a legitimate threat at striker and a DP. He has not decided on a new destination but it's going to take some serious $$ to get him.

    He's 28 and has an impressive strike rate. This would be a true impact move if they can pull it off.

  • do you think this managment can pull it off? i agree he would give us the striker that we have been waiting for. 19 goals in 37 games is what we need. i remember him from his borduex days.

  • In reply to penapirata:

    We'll see. It might come down to money. Whether its "Keane money" or less, I'm not sure. He has plenty of offers so the Fire aren't the only suitors.

  • Per the Daily Herald's Orrin Schwarz:

    Klopas confirmed at practice today that Grazzini will not travel to Houston for personal reasons.

  • So can we assume that no further cuts were made prior to the July 1 deadline?

  • In reply to DDT5583:

    Pretty good assumption.

  • great, we're stuck with puppo for the rest of the year.

  • In reply to penapirata:

    Unless they find someone who is willing to take him in a trade or better yet pay a transfer fee for him. But then again, who would be silly enough to pay a transfer fee for Puppo? Oh,wait......

  • The New England Revolution have acquired 25 year old Honduran striker Jerry Bengston from CD Motagua. He's got some impressive numbers down there.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Guillermo Any good excuses from the Fire why they can't
    find and sign a twenty five year old striker??
    Why are they pursuing guys that are reaching retirement age?
    I was hoping to hear some positive exciting news and not the
    continuing drama about Grazzini and the incompetence of
    the Fire front office??

  • In reply to Juergen:

    What that Macdonald guy doesn't do it for you?

  • In reply to Juergen:

    What? Puppo is 25 and a DP. Some people are just never happy. ;)

    But seriously. See comments above. I don't know that they'll be able to pull it off but the guy is legit.

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    In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I say we just work with what we have. I bet you if Chavez was still around, he would definitely be more useful to us today. Chances and continuity can do wonders sometimes.

  • In reply to waam:

    I liked Chaves as a role player. I would have liked to have seen Puerari stick around a little longer as well.

    I still think they need a top striker to really challenge seriously though.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Guillermo I know Puppo is only 25, but in his case
    D P stands for Disappointing Player. ;)
    Go Fire "Get that Young Talented Striker."
    Give Orr Barouch more playing time who knows
    he might just prove to be that Guy we all want and need.

  • In the recent interview in Hoy, Robayo said his best position is a "volante mixto." As good as my Spanish is, it's not soccer specific. Guillermo, what's your understanding of what this position is?

  • In reply to Fuegofan:

    The literal translation of that makes no sense. I'm assuming he meant "two way player" or "two way midfielder" or as described another way "box to box midfielder".

  • Too bad that both Agudelo and Bengtson were available and we couldn't land either. Both would have been very intriguing options for us.

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    In reply to Ufficio:

    Remember when we had Ante and never would have even thought this to be an issue at all.

  • Baggio opens up about leaving MLS/Fire, playing in Sweden, etc.

    http://t.co/8gS1kvnl

  • Glad to see that he has landed a gig. Husidic states he is making 3 times more in Sweden than when he played for the Fire but the Swedish league is several notches below the MLS.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    My Swedish is non-existent and my Google translator isn't the best but I thought he was saying that the money wasn't near what Colorado offered and maybe Colorado/MLS offered three-times as much? He says the level of play is closer to the NCAA than the MLS top-flight. Shame he couldn't pan out here though I only say him play for UIC once and in that game former Fire head coach Dave Sarachan's son, Ian, out-shun everyone on the pitch. He was spectacular.

  • I think there's some dispute in translation there. I read that to say that he would have made 3x more with Colorado than he makes with Hammarby, not the other way around.

  • Finding out from the man himself. He did say it is absolutely not the case that he's making 3x more than he made in MLS.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    Thanks Jeff. One day that whole "Translate this page" thing on Google Chrome will actually translate the articles properly! I wonder if Sega made more whilst in Crete than Baggio is making now. Not sure of the economics of the Crete league, but I'm assuming it's no better than the Swedish? If only that'd been included in Wayne's paper on Sweden in "Wayne's Word 2" we'd know the answer!!

  • Not to be getting ourselves to high but....

    ESPN Power Rankings this week have the Fire at #4 and MLS.com has them at #5!

    Bust a Move!

  • In reply to Arklow:

    They're also at 4 according to Ives.

  • Is Beckham suspended for Sundays game? It seems whenever the galaxy play in Chicago he is not playing?

  • If he is, the DC will issue the ruling this afternoon. Suspensions have to be issued prior to the week's matches, I believe. Not sure if that means they would have to rule by today, or by tomorrow since LA plays tomorrow (even though he's already suspended for that match from accumulation).

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    Was Chicago one of the teams that made an inquiry about Andrei Arshavin? I know he's fallen out of favor in the EPL, but that would be a supreme talent playing in MLS.

  • In reply to waam:

    I seriously doubt that one.

  • anything new on the better than puppo striker front?

  • In reply to penapirata:

    No. Last report was that MacDonald may or may not have already signed.

  • I'm assuming the delay on MacDonald is based on the Fire clearing an international spot for him. I wonder which international will get moved out? Hmmm......

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    i've said it before, yeah we are going to get(pay a transfer fee) a player that has only scored 15 goals in the past 3 years. i'm so excited for this acquisition to happen. its too bad ownership set the bar really low so its easier to achieve their goals.

  • According to transfermarkt, he's already with the Fire.
    In 206 games he's scored 38 goals and 31 assists (transfermarkt)
    Why bother signing him, he's not the game changer that will push the team to the top level, maybe he's being signed as a replacement for someone who is leaving.
    Hopefully, the team has more in mind than this.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    MacDonald is an underwhelming addition. He actually had a brief trial run in Chicago a few weeks ago and wasn't particularly impressive....although he did manage to impress someone sine they appear to be readying to add him to the roster.

    He's a piece that shouldn't be considered a player who will make much impact. I would hope they're bringing him in for depth since he can reportedly play with his back to the goal a little bit and they really don't have that on the roster right now. I would hope they're not paying a transfer fee for him either and that they've learned a lesson about overpaying for marginal strikers.

  • Insanity is repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Or something.

    I'm pretty sure I'll punch a kitten if MacDonald is our "target striker". Ugh.

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