Fire notebook - Paunovic on goalkeepers, Goossens, Gehrig, and Orlando City

Veljko Paunovic addressed the Fire’s goalkeeping situation, the status of John Goossens visa, the opening loss at home, the upcoming match, and more during his weekly conference call with media. Here’s the recap:

On the NYCFC game plan and tactics

“We wanted to play the way that we can win the game. We believed that starting in possession out of the back would give us that opportunity to commit them to step up, in order to pull their defensive line higher to create that (chances) behind. We scored the first goal and had so many chances. I honestly believe we were very successful in that. Not that successful in building out of the back, but every time we achieved that we had those opportunities where we could run into the back and attack their defensive line directly to the goal. That was the plan for that game. In the first half, defensive, and the whole team should have performed better, but also we have to improve our realization of all those chances that we had. We have to score goals.”

On the next match against Orlando City

“In the game that we saw in the preseason they had a different set up from the one that we saw in the game against Real Salt Lake. What we expect, playing at home is a more direct team than New York but still playing the same formation as they played in the first game. We will attack them the same as we tried to do against New York. We have to improve our defense. They have very fast guys and strong guys like Larin. Molino and Shea, are guys that we can say now have experience in the league and are very, very dangerous.”

On Lampson’s performance in goal

“I watched the game several times because I wanted to be sure of everything. Regarding Matt, I think that the team didn’t help him. He could do better, everyone could do better than we performed building out of the back. He tried and tried to develop and to play our plan building out of the back and playing with our centerbacks and midfielders. When it wasn’t possible he tried to play those long balls to our fullbacks and it didn’t work. He tried to do that. We have to understand what he was trying to do and that’s obviously my responsibility that he tried to do the plan that we wanted to play against New York. At some point, we also have to understand that sometimes the midfielders, sometimes it was a centerback, sometimes a fullback, they played the ball back to him when it wasn’t necessary and we didn’t need that. With the weather conditions, like we had with the wind against us, it wasn’t the best decision to do. I’m happy with how he worked and his attitude in trying to play the way we planned. That’s all that I can say.”

Who will start in goal on Friday?

“We still had our first session after the game and we are going to decide. We have time for that. We still didn’t decide.”

Would it have been more beneficial for Johnson to begin camp with the Fire rather than the USMNT?

“I think that playing for the national team is very important. We are happy that our players are called to the national teams and we will always support that. For sure, it was beneficial for him and beneficial for the national team and for us too, but I wouldn’t relate the current situation with Sean to being with the national team the first part of preseason. I think it’s just something that we have to deal with.  I don’t want to make any issue with the current situation. We need Sean. We need Matt. We need Patrick McLain. We need all of our goalkeepers and we need all of the players. What we are doing right now, (is) building our team. Everyone has to earn it and everyone has to improve. Everyone has to work. I put myself in that pool too. All of us have to be on the same page, trying to do our best in every session and every game and improve together and stay together.”

On the club’s road losing streak

“We see all our games as opportunities for us to win, to perform well, and to be the best we can be. For the next game we will have our game plan. I think we can all agree that in the game against New York City, our team played trying to win by creating opportunities and we fought until the end of the game. That’s what we are going to do this time. Hopefully we perform defensively better, and offensively we score the opportunities we create in order to win.”

On Gilberto’s injury status and Goossens visa

“He has an issue with a strain that happened in the first minute of the game on that great chance that he had. (It affected) the outcome of that opportunity. We are working on him. Hopefully he can recover, but we are not sure yet. There aren’t any other issues with injuries. What we are going to prepare for the game, I can’t talk about yet but on the good side Goossens is coming back. He got his visa and he is on his flight right now to come back and join us for the next game.”

“We will see how he returns from the flight. In a short period of time he has long flights and changing time zones. We will see how he feels and we will try to prepare him to be available for the game. We will decide on Friday if he is ready or not.”

On preference for a 3 or 4 man back line

“For us it is very important that we are developing that style that we were preaching during the preseason and before that. We can be adaptable. I think in the games that we played in preseason, the first game we could switch from one system to another. The formation that we played in the second half worked better for us in the game against New York. Defensively especially, but I would say offensively too. It’s good to know that we can use that formation too, and that system of play and we still have our basic, standard system, which is 4-2-3-1. Depending on the availability of our players for this game and the plan that we are going to develop in the next couple of days, we will know what system we will use. For us, having two or three systems is very useful and helpful in order to win.”

On short week prep

“We are working on recovery. There is nothing different that we are doing so far. We are going to prepare for turf. We are going to prepare for the weather. We are expecting it to be hot there. We will do our best to prepare for those conditions.”

On the backline consistency while changing combinations

“It takes time. It’s about playing. It’s about practicing and preparing in our sessions and video sessions. So far, we are taking the optimal advantage of the time we had in preseason. Having a lot of new guys on our team, including the staff too, I would say the balancing of that is time and work and confidence that we are creating for all of the pieces to settle down.”

On Gehrig’s return

“We committed ourselves to help Eric get out of this very serious injury. He is improving very well. What we said is that we don’t want to push him before he is ready to start. He is very, very ambitious. He wants to be (back) as soon as possible. Sometimes that didn’t help him during his recovery in the preseason, so we are managing that. We are looking forward in the next weeks, couple of weeks, and I don’t want to put any deadline to that, there is only a timeline of his recovery and how we are going to integrate him to the team and everything we are doing. I can tell you that he is working everyday the same things as the rest of the players. Sometimes, it’s the volume that we are trying to manage because that’s very important. That’s what causes a lot of issues of situations where he had to stop and not practice with the group. Right now, he is doing great. I believe that in the coming weeks he can be available one hundred percent.”

On Alvarez’s role

“I think he is doing great. He’s a great addition for our team. He is very talented and very experienced too. He always tries to share with the team, and with the youngsters, his experience in how we can improve in our game and situations that we have to manage during the game. He is very important as an experienced guy and an older guy who has experience at the international level. On the field, he reads the game very good. He helps the team defensively, but also offensively he always has that last pass. His execution is great too. He’s also great on set pieces. We believe that he is going to have an important role in this season. On the other side, for an international call, I absolutely expect that from El Salvador that he will be called for the national team. If that happens, perfect for him.”

On Kennedy Igboananike

“I think he is doing great. He is very committed to the style we want to play. What I’m very happy about is that he is scoring goals and he helped the team defensively again, like I said for Arturo too. He is very important. He is an experienced guy. He knows how to do in a locker room. He helps with managing youngsters. This is what we want to create here. The culture of young players, ambitious players, and all veteran players who are helping those guys to become pros and become the best they can be.”

Filed under: 2016 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • Guys i listened to a few podcasts today and most were saying that the fire appeared confused and out coached by a rookie coach. Its hard to look at the results of McGee , and Ship and wonder if this team is cursed with a continuous supply of poor managers. If accam gets hurt or is called up to the national team the fire is done for the season.

  • In reply to Brokerman:

    Magee and Shipp played well because they are both good players. Magee needed to go because he was a cancer for this team. Good riddance to him. Shipp on the other hand would be very useful to a team that is trying to build up from the back and work the ball around the field. For a guy that said he wanted to work the ball out of the back, we did a lot of long ball on Sunday. We will see if that was because NYCFC has the worst CB pairing Ive seen in a long time or if that was because the players were nervous and that was the easy way out. Either way, our games will have a lot of goals scored in them. Hopefully, we will have some games where we outscore them because if Pauno plans on keeping Lampson in goal, we are in big trouble. If Pauno likes the way that Lampson played on Sunday, his eye for talent needs to be worrisome for us. I know it was one game, but Lampson may be Pauno's Matt Fondy.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Magee was a two fold problem. That first season he came to the Fire he did great. Everyone was on the Magic Mike bandwagon. I think that very much has to do with Klopas playing Magee correctly. He's a cherry picker. Great within the six and finding space around defenders to receive that last ball. But then in comes Yallop and he creates problem number 1. How do you play one of the leagues top scorers from the previous season as a supporting attacker? And then play Quincy, who is a great hold up player and supporting attacker as the front attacker?

    Problem number 2 with Magee, was that for 2 seasons under Yallop, the only thing I ever saw that guy do on the field was complain. He spent 90 minutes whining to the ref. I can't count the amount of times he would take himself out of a play and miss chances because he would rather cry like a baby then continue playing for a goal. Ya I know he had injury issues and that contributed to it, but his attitude and ego got in the way more then that ever did.

    After he came out and said how he wished he had never stayed in Chicago and should have gone back to LA sooner, I was done with that guy. LA can have him because we don't need one more person crying on the field.

    Shipp on the other hand. That still hurts, and we could have used his distribution on the field Sunday. I hope he does well in Montreal and that he and Piatti continue to pair well together. Once Drogba stops crying about playing on Turf, I'm sure Shipp is going to lead in chances created and assists again for him. Shipp will be missed.

  • Did Pauno say anything about Accam taking corner kicks, or should I say, never taking corner kicks again? That was a pretty bad display.

    Also, the weight of wining must be getting to Sparky. He looked shorter this year!

  • In reply to Gladbach:

    I think Sparky's tail was between his legs most of the day.

  • Man I think I really have trust issues that I have to work through with this team. I guess 3-5 yrs of "lies" and non-truths can wear out a person.
    I just can't shake that feeling that I'm not being told the truth regarding the goalkeeping situation and that's one position we should not be having issues with. I get that he wants his guys in there, but don't bend the truth. Just be honest and tell us SJ is not your Man in Goal. Hearing the excuses and assessment of Matt's gameplay give me an all too familiar icky feeling of the previous coaching staff. When you tell me that a former USLer is your preferred man between the posts, over a national team goalie, I have to question your assessment prowess.
    I want to like this staff so badly, I really do. I love the uptempo, high pressing style - hey we finally have a style of play- that he is implementing, but the non-truths regarding Harry and SJ are too eerily reminiscent of the past. Am I wrong? Or do I just have trust issues. Someone help me.
    By the way, Saturday was my first game in 15 yrs that I attended as a non-season ticket holder. I miss my old seat...

  • In reply to FireRog:

    What I've seen from SJ in limited NT play is he doesn't play the same for the Fire. Too many lazy kicks aimlessly back up the field, out of bounds or punts. That could have been poor coaching, but I also don't think he kept his line well organized. He can make great, highlight reel saves, but be caught in bad positions too often. I just don't think his heart is totally in it here and he thinks he should be playing Europe.

  • fb_avatar

    Any notion that they are still in pursuit of Michael de Leeuw?

  • In reply to Carl Miller:

    Still talking.

  • I'm in about the same place as FireRog. I won't believe the promises until I see something on the field. Clever draft day dealings and building up TAM and GAM, and getting a couple of well-regarded college seniors is well and good, but building a successful season is different.

    So it's hard to be patient even though history shows that there is very little chance for success this season just based on the number of new players we have. We're not going to win this year, and even if they are quality, any new CB pairing will struggle until they get reps. Still, in goal... yeah, I thought we would have that covered.

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    The result on sunday was hard to take but it wasnt unexpected. There were a lot of glaring problems but a few things that had me slightly optimistic. While I think the rest of the roster needs to be (and should be considering the stash of funny money they still have) filled with more distinguished players, I was surprised by some of the performances by individuals I considered nothing more than squad players. We played a poor defense, but still, the amount of chances created was refreshing even if a good number were from long balls. But most of all, they really never gave up and up until the finial whistle, I really felt we were still in it. In past years, once a goal down, the team would just deflate and the game would be over in the 60th minute. So if nothing else that was refreshing. I am not excited yet for this current team but I dont feel the need to start worrying yet either...

  • In reply to Carl Miller:

    The need to start worrying comes after 10 games of next season. That will be my judgement day. It might come sooner if he continues to stick with Lampson though. That move is an easy fix and needs to be done on Friday. If Lampson starts on Friday, we will be in for a Yallop-esque season because we will be giving up 2-3 goals a game. If Lampson plays that way, I would be surprised if we had ANY shutouts with him in goal.

  • If Sunday taught me anything, it's that I needed to significantly lower my expectations for this team, which I have.

    I'll be surprised if we make it past 2 games against MLS teams in the Open Cup.

  • In reply to BrianC.:

    For real. For a team with 95% of its focus on improving the defense in the offseason, giving up 4 goals while sitting our best 'keeper doesn't bode well for the TD or the coach, respectively. 1 game is not a trend or a phenomenon, but it's an ominous start indeed.

  • Okay I give the fire maybe between 7 and 8 wins this year. I see the fire splitting with Philly, splitting with NYFC , beating Colorado and wining one against Colombia. As long as NR keeps looking in Europe and not following The examples of Dallas and Vancouver it will be a very long year.

  • In reply to Brokerman:


  • In reply to Brokerman:

    Nevermind, think that was an autocorrected Columbus.

  • One thing that made me a little nervous during the NYC game was how much of a gap there was between all three lines on the field. If the forwards were pressing, there wasn't enough help behind them to make them successful in their press. Sometimes it worked because the two CBs for NYC were worse with the ball than Ianni and Hurtado but 90% of the other teams in this league will kill us if the team is not pressing as a unit. We were pressing with 3 or 4 guys and leaving Pirlo with enough space to be an option. The whole team has to press or nobody presses. Anything else leaves the team exposed. NYC is going to be right around us at the end of the season. They will not win many more games than us and, if they do, it will because they outscored their opponent 4-3. Hopefully things will take better shape as they play together more but I can't imagine Pauno wanted the first game to look like that. It will be interesting to see how things look tomorrow.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    I think that will change with Goosens. He comes back to get the ball and distribute. Now they just have to play it in to him. He and Alvarez can create chances. We shouldn't see a lot of long balls in the next game unless Acaam is calling for it.

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