Winning the Carolina Challenge Cup was one thing but now the season starts for real next Sunday in Los Angeles and the Fire are back in Bridgeview (for one day at least) to begin preparations for the 2013 kick-off match. The team trained at the Bridgeview Sports Dome on Tuesday before departing for Los Angeles and warmer climates on Wednesday morning. With the full squad mostly intact and available for training Frank Klopas was still coy about the only possible question mark in the starting eleven come Sunday afternoon. Right back.
Team captain Logan Pause started the first few games of preseason at right fullback but an injury to Gonzalo Segares precipitated moving Pause to the left side and slotted incumbent Jalil Anibaba back into the position with the first team. When asked who would get the call on Sunday Frank Klopas responded, "You have to watch the game. The good thing is I have every player ready to go."
One player who won't be playing right back for the Fire is Pascal Chimbonda. He was not in Bridgeview with the club after spending the last two weeks on trial in Charleston. "He was a guy that we looked at as an older guy with experience, but I do feel like we have players that can give us more depth on the right side. It would be great to see if we can get more on the other side of the field," said Klopas.
Larentowicz and the Revs rivalry
Jeff Larentowicz was a member of the New England Revolution team that battled the Fire in the playoffs a few years back and some fans haven't forgotten his role in the rivalry. The newly acquired midfielder thinks the old flames can be rekindled with New England but the roster turnover since the last playoff tussle makes it difficult to maintain over a period of time. "It's hard because the rivalries stick longer with the fans. Players change teams and things like that happen. I look at the New England team, I think Andy Dorman and Matt Reis are the only ones that are still there from those years whereas here Gonzalo and Logan are still around. Players change and things like that change but they're still a rival, they're still in our conference and we still want to beat them every time we play them," said Larentowicz.
He does feel this particular Fire squad can be very dangerous in 2013. "It's a strong team. I think we've got a solid mixture of veteran guys and young talent. For me as I get older and I see more teams that come and go, I think that this one is a good one. We've got a lot of players and a lot of good attacking talent. Strong all over the field with new midfielders. Once we get that to gel we'll be a tough team to beat," he said.
- Arne Friedrich and Sean Johnson did not train at the Dome but stayed back at Toyota Park to work separately. Both are fine and expected to be fully fit for the opener.
- Gonzalo Segares also trained and expects to be ready Sunday.
- Third goalkeeper Alec Kann, who will rejoin the team in Los Angeles was not present today.
- Both Quincy Amarikwa and Yazid Atouba were present and training with the club.
City Flag Jersey at long last?
On Sunday, the Fire published a blog post with comments from Chief Operating Officer Atul Kholsa regarding the Fire's plans for a third jersey in 2014. After explaining that some elements of the current design incorporated touches meant to tie into a city of Chicago theme, Kholsa offered a ray of light for those supporters who have been clamoring for a kit based on the 2005 Puma "City of Chicago Flag" design.
Per Kholsa:"The primary reason for creating a third kit would be to engage our fans in a unique way. Also, we need to take into account the practical considerations of the true demand for this product so we can meet the minimum requirements from Adidas before we place the order. Since we just released new kits last year, we wanted to focus on our new designs and pace things appropriately to avoid flooding the market.
The most successful way to create a third kit, is for us to collaborate with our supporters, get everyone energized, and create the demand. In order to initiate this movement, in the coming weeks we will be launching a social campaign asking supporters to help us design a potential third kit, vote for their favorites, and then rally each other to make a commitment by putting a deposit down."
It appears that supporters will have a hand in designing the 2014 third kit via a social campaign aimed at finally being able to truly gauge demand for the product. From the sound of it, if you want the Flag jersey you'll be able to vote for it and place a deposit down guaranteeing that you'll purchase one.
I would be shocked if some version of the flag design isn't a hands down run-away winner.
Fire Confidential Podcast
If you missed Episode 22 of the Fire Confidential Podcast you can catch it here. Topics include a preseason recap and a few predictions.
Stay tuned for a jam packed Episode 23 featuring a sit down with Chris Rolfe and audio from the first day of training in Bridgeview.
Quaker Bobble Head
The Fire are running a new promotion that allows fans to choose which player will be immortalized as a collectible Bobble Head in a July 7 giveaway. Every player on the current squad is eligible for selection.