Fire notebook - Vincent an all-star, USOC, and more

In preparation for the Fire's most important game of the year on Wednesday night, Veljko Paunovic gave some regular players the night off against FC Dallas on Saturday. During his weekly conference call he addressed the odd decision to bench Sean Johnson after his best game of the year in order to give Matt Lampson a start ahead of an important match on Wednesday, preparation for Fort Lauderdale, and the surprise naming of Brandon Vincent to the MLS All-Star team.

Here are the highlights" 

Paunovic on Brandon Vincent being added to the All-Star roster

"I think it's a fantastic achievement for him, but also for our team because I think everyone on the roster helped him to get such an important achievement in the first year of his professional career. Being a rookie, we are all happy about it. We would of course like, in the future to add more players to that (roster) but this year it's not going to happen. We also want to encourage Brandon to keep on working hard and well as he is doing so far. For our team, where we have a lot of young players it's an example that there are people looking at our team and also people who value the importance and quality of our players."

On not traveling Johnson, Campbell, and Accam to Dallas

"We shared the plan with all the players before this stretch of games started. Before even the game against Sporting Kansas City, everyone knows how much they're going to participate and what the plan (was). From the fitness standpoint, we have to manage the load and July is a very hard month for us. Sean knew our plan for him before the game against Sporting Kansas City, and we want Matt Lampson to play also in the Open Cup game on Wednesday. We believe, for him that it was very important to have a game before that and that's one of the reasons that we decided to do it this way. David had a contusion on his ankle, but also we were talking to him, because he was one of the players who had a lot of games up to that game. In New England, when he started after his injury, we wanted him to give him opportunity to rest and after having that small issue with his ankle we believe that he will have a good opportunity to do that."

On Calistri's status

"Friday before we traveled to Dallas, (he) had an ankle sprain and he's not a full go. He's still doing treatment and he's not going to be on the roster for the Open Cup. Hopefully, we wil get (him) for the Saturday game."

On Fort Lauderdale

"For us, this game is a must-win game. We all know how much we value this competition and it becomes a priority. We will go with all our forces in this game against Fort Lauderdale. They're a very good team that has proven they can win against MLS team. They (win) did so far in the Open Cup two times so full respect and full power against them. We are preparing for that game as one of our priorities for this season."

"They're good team, formed with a good foundation. They've played in a 4-4-2, a system that we know has been solid for them. I think they have a good amount of foreign players, which raises the level of competition in the team. They have players from Costa Rica and Honduras in center midfield and they work hard and have shown that in two games in the Open Cup against DC and Orlando."

On USOC preparation

"We are full motivated and very optimistic about this competition. It' become our priority. This is how we are working. All our eyes are on this game and we want to prepare to win this game and we look forward (to it), We know that we have New England three days after so we also know what we wan to achieve in that game. Having this stretch, the importance of recovering well and having a plan where all the guys are important and have to be engaged and so far I think we are doing a good job with that. Players are understanding, very well their roles, each of them. We go game by game. We know that we have a plan and we share the amount of the plan that we can. We believe it's helpful for us to share with everyone. The next game is the most important game and we will work hard to win against Fort Lauderdale and we move forward."

"This competition is traditionally very important for this club. We'll give the maximum for this competition. Taking into account where we stand in the league, this competition is priority but that's not to stay that we're giving up on the regular season."

On clinging to playoff hope in league play

"We never give up. We will play all of our games to win, and that's what we're doing. At home, we've improved a lot. Since the game against Montreal, we are unbeaten here and that's important. We are not happy at all with our performance on the road. It's a matter of time (before) things will start to work for us better on the road and we don't give up on playoffs this year. I believe in miracles. I've seen them happen in soccer many times to me and even against me. Right now I'm in a position where I can expect them. I want everyone to believe in that and during that time we have to work, stick together, we have to give our best. I think that now we have more players on the roster that (gives us) more opportunity to rotate guys in the middle or up in front and switch formations in order to win the game. I'm very optimistic. I think we are getting better and we are adding people to our roster and very important people like Michael de Leeuw who just joined us. We are very happy with how he's performed so far. In these three games, I think he did very well."

Filed under: 2016 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • Couple of thoughts: First, this is the first Fire team in many many years that has improved over the course of the year. The players they have brought in are generally better than all of the players that have left (Shipp and Nyarko are still questionable). De Leeuw is the first mid year addition since Blanco who is a great addition. He is the real deal. All of this has led to better play and improvement over the course of the year. Second, while I believe that Vincent does not deserve the all-star label, I believe he has great promise. His play has only improved and sometimes dramatically each week. We have not seen improvement in young players since Osorio left. Of the two rookies on the backline, Campbell is the one closer to all-star level of play. He is awesome. Lastly, the MLS all-star game is stupid. Maybe it was needed when the league first started, but it no longer is needed to raise interest in the the league. I think it now is a negative to the league because it makes foreign players view the league as a second (really fourth) tier league. The focus should be on raising the level of the league not serving as a reminder that the league needs to cobble together the best players from each team to compete with a premier league team. It is a boring waste of time.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    I mean didnt the All Stars beat the big teams in the last 3-4 years so it shows we could beat those teams. I understand it's a friendly and the big teams use the young players and inexpierienced but they do still use those talented players and the All Stars stil do pretty good against them.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    I just want to know how you can determine that de Leeuw is a great addition?

  • In reply to penapirata:

    Granted, it maybe too early to tell, but I see skills and movement in his play that no one else has demonstrated in a long while. His play has improved the play of others around him as well. Accam will be even better with De leeuw because he will not have to rely solely on his speed to get an open shot. Again, I may be jumping the gun, but I think he is a very good player.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    I also have no use for the All Star game.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    I try to think of what other legit leagues around the world have All Star games, and then remember it's only us. Because, you know, American Sports.

    Just another silly revenue stream for the League.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    I'd say he has the potential to be the best mid-year addition since Grazzini. I still miss that guy.

  • Guillermo did you hear any news on any transfer rumours about Chicago. The only thing I really heard was Mix Diskerud, Balotelli (Let's be honest he probably will go to China, Italy, or LA Galaxy but Garber will change the rules in MLS to make the Balotelli to LA possible)
    Also did you hear any players that will leave . I remember when someone was interviewing Nelson at the delayed game and he said they are looking for a trade for an MLS starter so who could that be.
    Who do you think is realistic to get at this point and who do you see be given that DP spot ?
    Thanks Guillermo

  • In reply to DavidFromChicago:

    I've heard some rumblings but haven't heard anything solid in terms of incoming players yet. Diskerud has been talked about but I don't see that happening unless NYC picks up a big chunk of salary this year and over the next two years. Balotelli was just a suggestion by a writer and never an actual thing.
    Sean Johnson has been mentioned in trade discussions.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I'd be disappointed to see Johnson traded. He's a solid keeper and worlds better than Lampson. It would feel like just another attempt to flush the old players to me. I don't even know who I would want to get for Johnson.

    I also don't understand why Pauno feels the need to play Lampson for Open Cup games. If we are putting the "Best Product" possible on the field to ensure a chance at the open cup, doesn't that mean playing Johnson too?

  • In reply to edubs:

    It's odd.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    If they trade Johnson, they had better get a starter-level GK in return. The more I see Lampson play, it becomes obvious why he has spent the large majority of his career as a backup.

  • We're halfway through the season and still at the bottom of the table. NR was honest enough in his comments to basically admit that the Fire are a "bad team" until they have good results. No matter how long they remain unbeaten at TP (how many ties were there in 2014?), they need to be able to nick a win on the road. I like the potential De Leeuw and the rest of the team is showing, but we need results now and into next season to call this an improved team.

    As for the all-star game, MLS scrapped lots of early adaptations designed (mistakenly) to attract US audiences (eg shootouts) but kept the all-star game. AND the players union makes sure that in addition to the 26 gameday players (up from 22 in 2014), about a dozen additional players get a bonus from being on the final roster as "inactives." Those foreign players who might otherwise not understand the game will understand the $$ - so prepare to keep griping about the ASG for years to come.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Hey I'd play an all star game too if I was getting paid for it... Just saying.

    I thought Landon Donovan's comment to the Home Grown players for their game was an interesting one. Basically he said it was because he played in the All Star Game and actually cared about winning it that got him his opportunity to play in the bundesliga. His point being that you never know when you have an opportunity to impress someone, so take the ones you get.

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