The Fire and Chivas USA played to a 1-1 draw in Chicago's third preseason tune-up of 2013. Rookie midfielder Yazid Atouba continued to make a case for landing a spot on the roster with his second goal in three games. During his weekly conference call yesterday Frank Klopas praised Atouba's ability to create but noted that he still needed to improve in other areas such as discipline, playing without the ball and defending. "He's a young and talented player whose got the willingness to work hard and that's a good thing," said Klopas. Atouba chipped a pass from Chris Rolfe past Chivas goalkeeper Tim Melia in the 52nd minute to tie the match. The Cameroonian midfielder has displayed skills and flair on the ball that are hard to come by in MLS even while working to improve on the areas Klopas referenced. With three weeks remaining in camp, Atouba seems to have a very good shot at securing one of the Fire's three open international roster spots.
Here is the Fire line-up used today:
GK Tornaghi (Kann 75')
D Anibaba (Sterres 61'), Kinney (Pause 45'), Berry (McKenzie 61'), Segares (Gallagher 61')
M Thompson (Alex 61', Pabon 94'), Lindpere (Paladini 61'), Larentowicz (King 61', Mercado 88'), Bone (Atouba 45', Trialist 4 88')
F MacDonald (Brettschneider 61'), Rolfe (Trialist 3 61')
The Fire also released an updated list of trialists in camp yesterday. The revised list includes a couple of new trialists but did not name former Seattle draft choice Daniel Sterres, who played in the match today. Also absent from the list was unnamed trialist #2 who is no longer with the club. Trialists #3 and #4 are domestically based players who have not been named as of yet. Dailos Tejera, a forward playing in Spain's third division trained with the Fire for a week or two last summer and is getting another look this spring.
- Klopas mentioned in his conference call that Duka can play either side out wide, describing him as dynamic and quick off the dribble. The club was thin outside with Alvaro Fernandez' departure and needed to address the wing position, therefore necessitating the trade for Duka. He feels good about where they are at the wide spots at this point.
- The Fire are still looking to add another striker and there are options being explored both from outside and within MLS. "There are options outside of the league that we're looking at pursuing," said Klopas while noting that the European window will open again in July.
- The Fire are down to Sherjill MacDonald, Maicon Santos, and Chris Rolfe at the forward spot. Klopas said Alex may get a chance to fill in with minutes in the withdrawn/second striker position since that is where he played in Switzerland.
- Klopas on Duka's departure from Columbus amid reports of issues with the coaching staff. "We spent a lot of time (talking about Duka) and it had to make a lot of sense for us. We spent a lot of time talking to the player and being crystal clear about what our expectations are and how we expect people to act within our organization. It also had to make sense from a budget standpoint, not only this year but also next year."
- One the things he liked about Duka during conversations with the player and others familiar with him was his competitiveness. "Sometimes things happen and get blown out of proportion," said Klopas. "I don't think there's an issue from the character standpoint".
- Klopas also addressed the rights to Robbie Rogers and said the club has tried to reach him and speak to him. The club is open to exploring all possibilities with him including adding him to the roster. "We have options to do a lot of things. He's a valuable asset that we can look to bring on the team and if there are opportunities and it makes sense for us to trade those rights, I think you have to look at all those options," said Klopas.
- Duka, Patrick Nyarko, and Arne Friedrich should be ready to play against San Jose on Saturday.