The Fire returned to training today to start a full week of preparation for the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday night. Chicago should have a bit of an advantage considering that Vancouver plays on the road at Toronto tonight and will close a five game road swing at Toyota Park. The Fire capped a stretch of three games in ten days with a 2-0 loss to the Galaxy. Tired legs and the loss of Sebastian Grazzini have served as possible theories to explain the flat performance following two impressive wins and a tie in Houston but Frank Klopas brushed off the Grazzini talk in post game comments and feels the current fixture list won't be a problem going forward despite the heavy minutes logged by most of the regular starters.
"I think the guys are fresh. We have a fitness guy and we evaluate every minute guys play and what we do in training sessions," said Klopas when asked about the possibility of resting starters or altering the line-up in anticipation of another match in New York next Wednesday. "They have four days to recover, if you can't recover in four days then maybe you should retire," Klopas continued. "Everybody was fresh going into (the LA game). We don't play in Champion's League where we're playing Wednesday/Saturday for seven months. We have stretches of two or three weeks we're we go like that but we looked at that game and we had an extra day to recover and we felt good. I think there was no concern there from our standpoint as far as guys being fully recovered and ready to perform. As far as recovery there's no issue. You play Saturday and the next game is Wednesday, that's more than enough time because our training sessions are sharp," said Klopas.
The coaching staff also alters the duration and intensity of training sessions in order to maintain a level of sharpness on game days. "Today was 75 minutes which will be the hardest of the week," explained the Fire gaffer. "It was competitive but everything was short and sharp. We kept some guys out today after certain parts . Guys that have played the most minutes like Patrick (Nyarko) and Pavel (Pardo) and Chris Rolfe, mostly because he's coming back with his leg (injury) more than anything just to recover but other than that everyone's feeling good" said Klopas.
"We have research based on how guys felt (after games) from last year and we've adjusted certain things and I think the guys are fresh. There's no issue with that."
As far as the team needing some time to adjust to playing without Grazzini, defender Arne Friedrich considers that perception to be a non issue. "No way. We've got many of these questions and it's definitely not true. He's a good player but the two games before we also played without him and we got decent results so it's no excuse and we shouldn't discuss that," said Friedrich.
Cory Gibbs on the mend
Defender Cory Gibbs, who had surgery to repair a torn right meniscus in early April was on the field this morning and looked surprisingly strong raising hopes that he may be back before the end of the season. "My fingers are crossed. You never know," said Klopas about the possibility of having the veteran available for selection again in 2012. " I think his strength in his leg is looking good and he's doing more things. He's running around, he's jogging and he's doing better than what everyone would have expected at this point but that would be a very good surprise to have him back because at the beginning we all thought that he was probably out for the season," said Klopas.
"It's good sign that he's jogging, running, and touching the ball. He's working very hard inside. Whether he's on the field or not he's such a positive guy to have around with his experience and talking with the guys about being in many different situations throughout his career. His ability to talk to guys and share some of his experiences over the season definitely helps. He's a guy that's committed to the team," said Klopas. Gibbs did some running and ball work on the side today.
Notes, Rumors, and More
- The decision to start Jalil Anibaba at right back on Sunday in lieu of Dan Gargan had nothing to do with injury or form. "I just felt that I wanted to put in Jalil at right back," said Klopas. "I thought Jalil gave us something different on set pieces. In every game you feel some match-ups are a little bit better but they're both guys I can count on."
- Federico Puppo missed some training last week with a right ankle injury and did not dress for the LA game. Puppo was back on the field and should be available for selection on Saturday.
- Aregentine side Atletico de Rafaela claims via their Facebook page that Sebastian Grazzini, who is at issue with the Fire has been offered to several clubs in Argentina. A deal for a one year loan, free of charge was offered according to the post. The site claims that a deal sending Grazzini to Atletico de Rafaela would make him one of the highest paid players on that club. Keep an eye on this. A loan or transfer to an Argentine side while citing "family/personal issues" seems like a logical next step to this illogical soap opera.
- This article claims that Rafael Robayo is one of three reinforcements that Millonarios is attempting to secure for their upcoming Copa Sudamericana campaign. According to the article, there are still some difficulties in reaching an agreement with the Fire. The clubs are supposedly looking at different alternatives for getting the deal done.
- In yet another issue this time involving paper work, this report claims that the arrival of Sherjill MacDonald could be delayed due to issues in securing his visa. Per the report, MacDonald has already signed a contract and the Fire purchased the forward from Beerschot. Several reports already have claimed that a transfer fee was paid for MacDonald. Of course the Fire would need to move an international or trade for an international slot in order to officially add him to the roster.
#PickPat - Nyarko an All-Star?
Team writer Jeff Crandall seems to think so. Patrick Nyarko was inexplicably excluded from the six Fire players nominated by select media to receive consideration for the All-Star game roster via the voting process so the Fire are launching a campaign to have him added to the roster either through one of coach Ben Olson's selections or Commissioner Don Garber's picks. The campaign is spearheaded by a #PickPat hashtag on twitter. Here are the details.
Around the league
- Reports are surfacing that the New York Red Bulls are negotiating with a third DP. The New York Post seems to think it's midfielder Alexander Hleb.
- Justin Braun has been traded from Montreal to Real Salt Lake in exchange for a draft pick.
- Vancouver has sold midfielder Davide Chiumiento to FC Zurich in Switzerland.