The Fire are ready to move past the loss in Los Angeles this past Sunday afternoon as they begin preparation for the home opener on Saturday night against the New England Revolution. Frank Klopas is happy to have another match come quickly after the disappointing result in the opener. "The good thing is the games come quick so we don't have a lot of time to think about it," said Klopas today while addressing the game at the annual Season Kickoff Luncheon.
The technical staff is reviewing game tapes to help determine what went wrong ahead of training for the New England match. "I know the guys will be ready to go because it's not a good feeling after our last match. It's an opportunity to get back on the field at home in front of our fans," said Klopas. Training outdoors on Wednesday will be an issue due to the snow that blanketed the Chicago area during the day on Tuesday so the Fire will take it indoors for at least the Wednesday session.
The Fire aren't expecting an easy match despite their old rival's recent struggles over the last few seasons. "It's a conference game and I think they're a good team, much improved with the players that they've added. I expect a difficult match we shouldn't underestimate anyone," said Klopas.
Friedrich and Pause still ailing
The status for both players is still up in the air as the Fire are waiting to see how both Arne Friedrich and Logan Pause recover from the injuries that kept them out of the season opener. "It's day to day," said Klopas. "If they don't train tomorrow or in the next couple days it's probably doubtful that they'll be available for the game," he added.
Friedrich has strained the same hamstring that he injured last year but he doesn't believe the issue to be as serious as it was last season when he missed several weeks of action shortly after making his Fire debut. The World Cup veteran said he was feeling better but it would take "a little bit of time" before he was back at 100 percent. The hamstring injury occurred in training shortly before the final preseason game.
"I was very happy with Steven (Kinney) after his absence for two years to come back and rebound and go through a lot to get back in the game," said Klopas of Friedrich's replacement in the opener. "It's a positive because all the games the (bench) guys get playing (right now) will help us throughout the season," he said.
Klopas explained that the decision to start Maicon Santos in the opener was based on recent form and nothing else. "I just look at what's going on in training and try to figure out where the guys are at that moment and who's in better form and how they combine. That's all it is. Throughout the season when you have some depth, and quality depth you take into account what's going on in training and in the preseason," said Klopas.
The coach was still confident that MacDonald would step up and help the club despite not getting the call into the first eleven on Sunday. "He's still a good player, nothing has changed my mind. He's going to have a very good year and be an impact player for us," said Klopas.
Klopas also feels that the Fire's new central midfield pairing will improve with playing time despite a showing that he described as needing to "get better" on Sunday. Joel Lindpere and Jeff Larentowicz didn't play their best on Sunday but both veteran players have successful track records that should make them valuable contributors in Chicago. Klopas also cited Larentowicz's strengths as reasons for naming him captain on Sunday. "He's a guy that's been captain for different teams and he's a veteran guy. He's got leadership qualities in the way he plays on the field and carries himself. I felt he had natural leadership abilities and qualities but that's one of the reasons we got him," said Klopas.
One player who may continue to earn longer looks is rookie Yazid Atouba. The Cameroon youth international came into the match late and wasted little time in trying to salvage something on Sunday. "He's got a lot of good abilities in the final third. He's a young player who wants to learn and he's hungry with a fantastic attitude. He came into a not so easy situation and tried to make things happen," said Klopas.