Fire prep for final phase of pre-season

The Fire are training in Charleston, South Carolina for the next two weeks in the final stage of pre-season camp. A match against the Houston Dynamo this Saturday will be the first of three contests in the annual Carolina Challenge Cup warm-up. Frank Klopas talked about the decisions remaining to be made as the season approaches during his weekly press conference call this morning. Among the topics was the addition of Premiere League veteran right back Pascal Chimbonda as a trialist. The former French international defender will be 34 next week and has been away from active football for a few months so Klopas is looking to get him into game action before making a decision on his status. "We need to see his mobility still on the field," said Klopas. "He’ll play in some games and we’ll need to see that and also how he fits in within our group. The goal is overall to have quality and a deeper team at every spot," he continued.

Chimbonda can also play centerback, which is a trait Klopas is looking for. "We’d like to get another guy that can be a little more of a dual role that can play centerback," said Klopas while adding that both  Logan Pause and Jalil Anibaba are capable of playing on the right as well as in the middle if necessary. The coach was also happy with the progress that Steven Kinney has made in his return from injury. "He’s come along really well up to this point. He keeps improving and getting better which has been a great surprise for us just to see him stay healthy and continue to play well," he said of the third year defender who missed the entire 2012 season due to a variety of ailments.

Pineda on the mend

Another player in the recovery room is Homegrown player Victor Pineda. The midfielder underwent offseason season surgery to repair a torn meniscus but he wasn't quite ready to join the club in Charleston for the final phase of camp. The procedure employed to repair his knee has kept him out of training a little longer than expected but Klopas explained that the staff was still optimistic about his return. "Because of the procedure they did with his meniscus, instead of cleaning it there was an opportunity to stitch that together and the process takes a little bit longer because of the unique time for the blood flow to go there and to heal," said Klopas. "Actually doing that procedure was a lot better for him long term. I think he’s progressing well but he’s not here in camp."

The coaching staff is hoping that Pineda can begin running and training once the club returns to Chicago. "It’s tough because we initially thought that sometimes when you get a meniscus you go in and you clean it and you’re two weeks back but the way it was done over the long term it was better to do it this way and the process takes a lot longer," explained Klopas.

The Fire's second Homegrown player, Kellen Gulley has rejoined the club in South Carolina after missing parts of the last phase while the team explored a loan deal. That plan still seems to be in effect for Gulley, who has a struggled a bit against first team competition. "With Kellen we’re looking at opportunities where we can loan him out to a USL team where he’s able to get games. He needs to get meaningful games and minutes to play well," said Klopas.

Roster moves

The Fire is still looking to add another player or two but the first team roster appears to be close to set. The additions are likely to be moves aimed at depth, with players like Chimbonda and Quincy Amarikwa seen as possible reinforcements. The well traveled attacker joined the Fire as a "guest player" last weekend and impressed against San Jose.

"We’re trying to look at it and sort it out," said Klopas of a deal that would bring Amarikwa to the Fire permanently. "We liked when he was here and what he brings. He’s a guy that we’re going to look at the situation and see if it makes sense to get him in here again. We’re discussing that possibility," he continued. Amarikwa's MLS rights are currently held by Toronto FC.

The roster is likely to be filled by players we've already seen in camp and not necessarily a new face at this point. "It could be a guy like Amarikwa that we had in. We’ve had some guys that have been here from the beginning. I think we’re pretty close to where we want to be. Some of the guys that we’ve had in camp we need to make decisions on and we’ve already started that process," said Klopas when asked about the possibility of adding new players before the season begins.

Atouba continues to impress

The rookie midfielder has been the talk amongst fans after three impressive preseason outings and Klopas reiterated that he likes what he sees as well. "What I like about him is that with the ball he’s got the ability to beat defenders and as you can see he’s dangerous in the final third," he said. "He’s not scared to get the ball and he wants the ball in difficult moments and that’s a plus," Klopas continued. Defending is one area that needs improvement but the gaffer feels that will come with time as Atouba continues to train hard and build strength while trying to learn English according to Klopas. "On the field it’s all about the ability to play. On the field it’s just about soccer and he’s not intimidated at all which is a very positive thing."


Filed under: 2013 Pre Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • Robbie Rogers announces he is stepping away from football and that he is gay......

    Pretty brave stuff from a 25 year old athlete that can still play.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    In this day and age, there are lots of 25 year olds who are out. The thing that's different about Rogers is his profession. It's easy to sit on the outside and say "well, he should just keep playing," but I don't think it's that simple when male locker-room culture revolves around (among other things) demonstrations of machismo and heterosexuality. Just look at Dom Oduro's Twitter feed. Beyond that, though, there are management, fans, and opposing players.

    Or better yet, listen to the interviews that David Testo did with Beyond the Pitch and ExtraTime Radio. In those, especially the Beyond the Pitch show, he talks a lot about the social expectations that players have to live up to. He was out in the locker room in CLB and MTL, apparently, showed leadership on the field, but didn't get single call after he came out - not from MLS, not from NASL, not from USL. Nothing.

    What's the lesson there for a Robbie Rogers? What's the lesson from Justin Fashanu (only out player in Premier League, suicide in 1998)?

    I would like to think that he would find his place in the Chicago locker room if called on to do so. Personally, as a fan, I would welcome with him taking a place on the team, if he fit into the team's plans. The difficulty for the Fire is that now whatever decision they make will be filtered through the knowledge that they are dealing with a gay player - especially if he is cut or they try to trade him (and I can imagine in this situation the value of the Fire's trade probably went down - stepping away from the game generally doesn't increase your value). There will then be questions about whether or not they only paid lip-service to tolerating his sexuality.

    It's a shame that he has to be in this situation. I think he's got a lot to sort out, stuff much bigger than football and the Fire. Good luck to him.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Well said.

    Here's an excellent interview with Rogers' teammate and friend Andy Iro regarding the announcement and the difficulty involved with continuing to play....

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Really solid points all, Modi. I was thinking about the David Testo situation earlier but was drawing a blank on who it was. The sad reality in 2013 is, regardless of strides made in the area of acceptance and openness, it's still difficult to be a gay soccer player in this day and age. Because the stigma of a Testo type situation is always a possiblity; one where there's nothing said outright, but the actions do the speaking. Unfortunately it seems a vicious cycle that will be tough to break, short of someone being ready to take that chance in coming out and trying to stay in the game as acceptance becomes (hopefully) greater.

  • Best of luck for Robbie Rodgers.
    At this point it looks like ,, Chimbonda, Amarikwa,
    and a third keeper are going to be the final parts to the
    roster puzzle, barring any last minute trade.
    I t would be nice to see Gulley farmed out where he can play full time and open another roster spot.
    While lacking some top talent up front, it appears this is the deepest squad for the Fire in years. Should be able to stay in contention
    without difficulty and pick up a quality striker in July.
    Feel more confident in this year's squad than last year's.

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    I think we could have used him. Should come back.

  • A GK, Atouba, and Amarikwa seems likely. If he shows well in matches, I'd love to see Chimbonda around for a few years. A backline includng Chimbonda/Friedrich/Segares would go FAR in bringing up the young guys as the next generation of defenders.

    Honestly not sure at this point if Chimbonda is a viable possibility to get signed, though.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    I think Chimbonda can get signed, the concern would be what he has left in the tank. He's 34 next week and hasn't played club football since last spring. They might get a year or two out of him max.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I would think 2 years out of him would be a gift. But it'd also give enough time to Anibaba/Kinney/Berry/Jumper to continue growing their game in under the vets.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    Chimbonda would be great insurance for the back line, he doesn't
    have to play the full 90 each game.

  • In reply to lonecoyote:

    True, but that would mean them burning a sub on a defender, which typically only happens in the case of an injury.

  • Disappointed to see Rogers step away from the game. His sexual orientation should mean nothing. If he can play, and wants to play, he should play. Of course, if he's done with the game, then great, I hope he enjoys the rest of his life. I just hope he isn't confusing his sexual orientation with something that means anything on the field.

  • Good for RR. More players need to be as brave as he is. Hopefully in time he decides to play again and realizes what a special opportunity he has to get paid to play the game that we all love.

  • Does anyone know how to get the full screen of the game feed? The instruction "scroll to the left to make full screen" is meaningless to me.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    Nevermind. I guess that's not the only thing that's not working.

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