The Fire seem to have stumbled onto an epidemic of injuries at the right back spot but may get some help this weekend if team captain Logan Pause is able to return to the line-up. Pause returned to training last week but the club felt it was too early in his recovery to insert him into competition against Sporting Kansas City. "There was some discussion about coming back last week," said Pause after a chilly training session at Toyota Park on Wednesday morning. "We had to look a little bit more at the bigger picture. I trained a handful of days last week and did some running and responded well but to go and be thrown into the deep end, I think the weekend provided a little bit more rest and I'm in a better place for it."
While he has improved to the point where he has resumed full training the extent of his availability is still questionable. "He trained a little bit today and it seemed like his back was bothering him so we just have to see. I saw him a little bit towards the end (of training) but it's two days, we just have to see how he reacts and feels," said Frank Klopas when asked if Pause was ready for Sunday.
Pause feels he's getting close and is eager to get back on the field. "I've improved physically in both my fitness and my health so I hope to be available to help the team if possible," he said. Where on the pitch that might be is another question. The Fire are thin at right back with Jalil Anibaba moving inside and injuries to Steven Kinney and Mike Videira limiting the options. Joel Lindpere is also away on international duty so there is a chance Pause could slot into a midfield role as well. "I've kind of been all over the place. I just haven't been in goal yet," joked Pause when asked where he trained this week.
"I'm getting there. I'm inching along but I'm definitely at a point where I feel I'm helping the team," said Pause regarding his availability for selection against Chivas USA. The veteran midfielder also stressed that despite the rough start to the season, players aren't panicked just yet. "This is professional sports, we live in a world of pressure. It's kind of what we sign up for whether it's at the bottom or at the top. We're only three games in and we've got a lot of soccer to play and we kind of look at it that way. We're looking at the bigger picture," said Pause.
Tornaghi steps in for Johnson
Paolo Tornaghi played well in three starts to begin the 2012 season but didn't get an opportunity to get onto the field for a regular season game once Sean Johnson returned to the club from Olympic qualifying. He's getting another chance this year with Johnson away with the USMNT again this year. Frank Klopas likes what he's seen of the Italian goalkeeper. "He came in as a younger third keeper but he won that second position through preseason. We know we're going into a situation with World Cup qualifying and Sean being with the National Team, which is great for him but we have all the confidence in Paolo in moments like this to step in and do a very good job because he's an excellent 'keeper," said Klopas.
Tornaghi's preparation hasn't changed but did mention that the anticipation for game time increases when penciled into the first eleven. "It's a little different because you know you're going to play for sure,"said Tornaghi. "I played a lot of games in preseason and played also last year in different games and international games so nothing changed for me. It was good I think that every time I was in this preseason I was focused knowing that I would have the chance to play."
- Klopas was relatively happy with the result in Kansas City although the game plan didn't necessarily involve allowing as much possession as they did. "We had to defend a lot more than we wanted to but our team shape was good and guys left it all out on the field. It was positive and something to build on," said Klopas.
- Preparation for Chivas USA offers different challenges from what the club has faced so far this season. "They're more direct. How you deal with the three front runners that don't play out wide (is key) since they're more tucked in so there's a lot of responsibility on the one wide player to cover a lot of distance. We have to prepare in a different way dealing with a lot more longer balls and being able to pick up second balls," said Klopas. "They play with three in the back so there's going to be space. Our movement off the ball is going to be key."
- Tornaghi also cited new strategic preparations for facing El Chelis' side on Sunday. "We are working a lot in a tactical way because we know Chivas is a little different style from most of the other MLS teams."
- Klopas addressed the possibility of interest in Philadelphia defender Bakary Soumare who is seeking a trade and right back Adam Johansson who will be released by Seattle. "They're good players. Don't forget there are salary cap (issues) and what team's want for good players. It's not always so easy. I know Baky well, he spent a long time here. It's great that guys, when you treat them in the right way always feel that this is their team. There are a lot of implications but you look into every situation for sure," said Klopas. "We're looking at everything and every opportunity to improve the team."
- Sherjill MacDonald has struggled in preseason and has been unimpressive in the three games to start the year. The Dutch forward mentioned that he has been nursing a calf injury which has hampered him and kept him from regaining full form. The injury is not serious but could require "minor surgery" at some point which may cause him to miss a couple of weeks if necessary.
Fire Confidential Podcast
Just because you didn't get enough of the Fire's local TV broadcast team of Dan Kelly and Kevin Egan on the All-In Podcast check them out here in the latest episode of the Fire Confidential Podcast. The Fire's slow start, roster depth, MLS, and more are the topics of the day.