With less than two weeks remaining until First Kick the Fire are close to set on a final roster. A few spots remain open and the club will use the final two preseason contests to further evaluate players before final cuts are made. One of the players on the bubble is Premier League veteran Pascal Chimbonda. The defender turns 34 this week and his fate won't be decided until the weekend as the technical staff continues to evaluate him.
"We'll see," said Frank Klopas during his weekly media teleconference when asked about Chimbonda's chances to make the squad. "It's an area of the field where we do have depth on the right side. He's an experienced guy who played at a high level for many years but also now we're looking at his ability to still cover space and to play in a way where it makes sense in this league," he continued. Klopas cited an ability to get forward, cover ground, and defend well as areas still under evaluation. "I think it's an area of the field where we have players that can play in those roles. We'll look at this camp and see how he comes along and see if we feel like he's someone that can come in and add something to our group," he said.
Final cuts are not likely to be made until after the final preseason match on Saturday. The third goalkeeper's spot is up for grabs between James Belshaw and Alec Kann and the Fire are still trying to work a deal for Quincy Amarikwa. "We're still looking at it and hopefully we can finalize something in the next couple of days," said Klopas of a potential deal with Toronto FC for Amarikwa.
Final roster shaping up
"We're pretty close to where we want to be right now," said Klopas. While there won't be any more new additions the coach also hinted that he hasn't settled on a starting eleven despite utilizing the same group to begin the match in the last two contests. "I'm not setting any line-up yet but I'm pretty comfortable with the group. You try different things. That's why preseason is important, to see where the players are and to see what formation and what players gel better together and I think that's what we've been doing," explained Klopas. "I'm happy with the depth of the team and the players that we added made our team better. The season is just around the corner now we just have to show it on the field".
- Patrick Nyarko, Dilly Duka, and Arne Friedrich haven't trained for the same amount of time as most of their teammates this winter but they are in a position where they can be pushed 90 minutes after the midweek match against Charleston.
- Midfielder Brendan King has been signed to a contract but he's still more of a developmental option than one that will challenge for first team minutes. "He's a young player. We knew him before. He's done okay, I think there's a lot of room there to improve. He's working hard so that's a good thing," said Klopas of King's play in camp.
- Corben Bone completed a 10 day training stint with Atletico Madrid a few weeks ago and the coach would like to see him use that as a confidence builder on the way to earning more playing time. "He's done fine. It was good for him to go there and continue to train. He's done well and I think he's just got to be able to do the stuff that he does in training with confidence when he does get opportunities in games," said Klopas. "He has the ability. He's quick and good with the ball and I just feel he's got to have more confidence in himself and play with more confidence".
Fire Confidential Podcast
Check out the latest episode of the Fire Confidential Podcast with guests Daniel Paladini, Baggio Husidic, and the Daily Herald's Orrin Schwarz. Discussion includes roster moves, the upcoming season, and Robbie Rogers' recent announcement. Paladini had some interesting things to say about player reaction to the news on Friday.