The Fire are looking to register their elusive first goal and points of the 2013 campaign when they take on Sporting Kansas City in a Saturday matinee match on NBC Sports. The club's slow start has left fans disappointed and wondering where the spark is that helped them qualify for the 2012 playoffs while establishing a franchise record of 17 wins in a season. A loss on Saturday will certainly raise more questions about a team that, while talented has yet to translate that quality into results in the early going of the 2013 season.
Logan Pause doubtful this weekend
Captain Logan Pause was back to full training with the team on Thursday. While the veteran midfielder feels good, he and Frank Klopas both acknowledged that it's a slow, day-by-day progression. "I still think that it's probably under evaluation," Pause said. "There's the possibility of playing some role this weekend, but we still need to evaluate and get through today."
Frank Klopas was a bit more cautious about his return. "It was his first day of training today. I talked to him afterwards, and as much as he wants to I think he's still not there," said Klopas. "We just have to be smart. I think the likelihood would be next week given the fact that it's his first day back and he's still not 100%."
Steven Kinney injured
It seems that the apparent limp carried by Steven Kinney in the closing minutes of Saturday's game wasn't an apparition after all. Kinney sat on the sidelines Thursday while the first team trained and Klopas acknowledged that he had picked up a quad injury in the loss to New England. The coach also ruled him out of the KC match while estimating a timetable for his return. "The last game he had a quad injury, so probably 7-10 days," said Klopas.
Kinney's injury brings into question who might start at right back on Saturday, as it's likely Jalil Anibaba will pair with Austin Berry at center back. A quick glance at the depth chart seems to indicate a start Saturday for Mike Vidiera or perhaps Wells Thompson, something Klopas also cited as a possibility. Klopas also ruled out bringing in a player like Rauwshan McKenzie, who was with the club for a spell in preseason in favor of staying with options currently on the roster.
Friedrich recovering well
Klopas said he spoke with the former German international on Wednesday, as Friedrich was receiving treatment for a hamstring injury picked up in preseason play. According to Klopas, Friedrich is doing "quite well" in his rehab, and the technical staff has slated a tentative date of the April 7th matchup against New York Red Bull for the veteran centerback's return.
Klopas and team not pushing the panic button yet
Klopas also addressed the club's struggles to open the season and talked about the veteran presence of newcomer Jeff Larentowicz, who donned the captain's armband in Logan Pause's absence. "He's a leader on the field. More than anything, he brings that to the field. He's very focused and serious and he brings some intensity and bite in the middle, but also the ability to play out of the back," said Klopas. "The guys are giving everything they have, I don't think we have any issues with that. We just have to keep working hard, and when things don't go right you can't go crazy and panic. It's early, and we just have to keep improving on the things we need to get better at."
Logan Pause echoed those sentiments. "I think the group is obviously frustrated with the results. You never want to start out 0-2 without scoring a goal, but we're incredibly optimistic. We have a lot of guys who've been around the league for a long time, and a good mix of veterans and young guys," Pause said. "The first two games, that's not how you paint the picture, especially dropping a result at home is disappointing, but we're looking forward to Saturday as another opportunity to grab three points."
Pineda back on the pitch
Injured midfielder Victor Pineda did some light ball work on the side during training this morning. While it's a good sign that's he's back to soccer activities he's still a few weeks away from resuming full training.
Joel Lindpere has been called into the Estonian National Team for World Cup qualifiers on March 22 and 26. Lindpere will depart on Sunday following the Fire's match in Kansas City and will not be available for the Chivas USA game in Bridgeview next weekend.