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April 2010 Archives

Wilman Conde, the Fire's best defender and a member of last year's Best 11 in Major League Soccer, left the Fire's workout early at Toyota Park on Wednesday.
Coach Carlos de los Cobos said Conde felt pain in his leg but was hopeful Conde would be back at practice on Thursday and be available for Saturday's home game against Chivas USA.
Conde sat out the second game of the season with an injury and the Fire managed a 2-2 draw at Colorado. If he can't go Saturday the Fire will be more shorthanded in the back since Krysztof Krol must sit out a red card suspension and the ailing Dasan Robinson was again forced to watch the workout. Robinson is hopeful of returning to the pitch next week.
De los Cobos said Deris Umanzor will replace Krol on Saturday.
Veteran midfielder Logan Pause went through his second day of training after recuperating from a strained MCL suffered in the Colorado game on April 3. His participation against Chivas USA, however, is doubtful.
Meanwhile, the Fire had nominees for both best goal and best save in last week's games. Goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra was nominated for a brilliant sequence in which he blocked a shot by Houston's Andrew Hainhault and then pounced on a rebound try by Dominic Oduro in the 57th minute. Dykstra protected a 1-0 lead with those stops and the Fire went on to win 2-0.
Peter Lowry received a goal-of-the-week nomination for re-directed a crossing pass from Patrick Nyarko into the net with his chest against the Dynamo. Lowry provided an insurance goal in the 67th minute of the Fire's second straight win.

The Fire has yet to win a game on its home turf this season, the next chance coming when the Houston Dynamo visit on Saturday, but the Toyota Park complex is looking better than ever.
Forty trees were planted along 71st Street on Thursday with players Andrew Dykstra and Marco Pappa leading the kickoff to the club's ``Fire Goes Green'' festivities. Prior to Houston match Olympic speed skating star Shani Davis will be the scarf-raiser for extended ecological awareness.
The Fire, along with Davis, will wear green uniforms against the Dynamo. They will be auctioned off after the game with proceeds going to the Chicago Fire Foundation.
In addition to the new trees work is being completed on a synthetic turf field adjacent to the Fire's practice field. Installation, which requires about a month's work, is scheduled for completion by May 1 when two youth matches will be played there as a prelude to the Fire's evening match against Chivas USA.
``Not only can the Fire practice on it,'' said club president Dave Greeley, ``but our Academy and Development teams can play on it and so can teams from throughout Chicago. That's important from a business standpoint.''

The Fire already has the Sister Cities Cup coming to Toyota Park in May. Now AC Milan, the Italian powerhouse, will be coming as well.
AC Milan, which beat the Fire 3-1 in an international friendly at Soldier Field in 2005, will play a similar match against the Fire at Toyota Park on May 30. AC Milan will be the fourth European team coming to town in May.
The new Sister Cities tourney will include Paris-Saint Germain of France, Legia Warsaw of Poland and Red Star Belgrade of Serbia. The Fire will open the tourney against Paris-Saint Germain on May 19 in the start of a doubleheader. The third place and championship matches will be played on May 22.

The Fire may have finally won a game with its 2-0 victory at D.C. United, but the lineup and new formation that coach Carlos de los Cobos employed for that game might not be the same for Saturday's home game against the Houston Dynamo.
De los Cobos, while pleased with the victory, wouldn't commit to keeping first-time starter Dasan Robinson at right back or using the 4-3-4-1 formation used for the first time against United.
``Maybe. It's possible, but I need to think about this,'' de los Cobos said following Tuesday's practice at Toyota Park.
The outside defenders continue to be in a state of flux. Tim Ward, Mike Banner, Krzysztof Krol, Deris Umanzor and Robinson all have had a chance to start on either the left or right side in the first four games. Ward started the first three games on the right, but didn't even make the trip to D.C. Robinson sat out Tuesday's workout, but de los Cobos had no problems with his work in the victory.
```He was very strong defending. He was always in the right position,'' de los Cobos said.
The midfield will likely remain the same for another week in part because the injured Logan Pause (knee) and John Thorrington (quadricep tear) still aren't ready to practice.
Up top de los Cobos went with one forward (Collins John) in his starting lineup at D.C., with Brian McBride coming off the bench. In the first three games de los Cobos used a 4-4-2 formation, largely because he felt his available personnel were more comfortable with it.
``One forward -- many teams around the world do that,'' he said. ``Offense doesn't depend on how many forwards you have but on how many players arrive in the box when you're attacking,'' he said.

Why McBride didn't start

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Captain Brian McBride wasn't in the starting lineup for Saturday's 2-0 win at D.C. United. This was coach Carlos de los Cobos' explanation in his post-game interview.
``I wanted to strengthen our midfield. When you have three forwards it can soften the team sometimes, it can suffer. The offensive side of the game depends on how many players arrive into the box in any situation. In this situation we played with one forwards and had four-five chances to score in the first half and it was good for us.''
McBride was inserted in the second half and scored his second goal of the season, helping the Fire to its first win.
``Brian is a great professional, and he has a great attitude,'' said de los Cobos. ``He came on the field to help the team. Henot only scored his goal, but he helped his team with his collective play.''

Here's some Fire tidbits that you might have missed:

-- Marco Pappa's 20-yard blast for the lone goal in last weekend's home-opening loss to San Jose was nominated for Major League Soccer's goal-of-the-week.

-- Former Fire star Cuauhtemoc Blanco was one of 17 players called up by Mexico national team coach Javier Aguirre for his team's first four North American exhibition matches leading into the World Cup finals. Blanco, now playing for Veracruz of the Mexican second division, will be included when Mexico faces Senegal in the second of the exhitions, on May 10 at Soldier Field. First of the exhibitions in May 7 vs. Ecuador in New Jersey.

-- D.C. United, the Fire's opponent Saturday on the road, has three players on its roster who came out of the Fire Development system. Thabisco Khumalo trained with the Fire from 2003-04 and was drafted 36th overall by the Fire in 2005. Brandon Barklage was in the Fire Development system in 2008 and Barry Rice in 2009. Barklage and Khamalo are midfielders and Rice a defender.

-- A ``Fire Goes Green'' promotion will be featured at the next home game -- April 24 vs. Houston. Fire players and staffers will plant 40 tries around Toyota Park at noon on Thursday, April 22, and then wear commemorative jerseys against Houston that will be auctioned off afterwards. Proceeds will go to the Chicago Fire Foundation.

-- The Chicago Red Stars, which shares Toyota Park with the Fire for its home games, plays its first match of the season in Bridgeview on Saturday when Saint Louis Athletica visits. The Red Stars also announced a partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicago and Northwest Indiana. The Red Stars will wear the charity's logo on its jerseys.

Brian McBride, Collins John and Patrick Nyarko all missed practiced with the Fire on Tuesday, leaving coach Carlos de los Cobos without all the strikers he's used in the first three games.
McBride's absence was excused. De los Cobos said the team captain had a personal matter to deal with and is expected back at practice on Wednesday. John (back) and Nyarko (ankle) are injured. De los Cobos didn't know if either would be available for Saturday's game at D.C. United.
Midfielders John Thorrington and Logan Pause, both dealing with leg injuries, watched the Toyota Park workout.
The injuries, coupled with the Fire's 0-2-1 start, have de los Cobos frustrated.
``We need to play with the players I train during the week,'' de los Cobos said. ``If they want to learn, they have to practice.''

The Fire has announced the acquistion of left back Deris Umanzor from Club Deportivo Aguila of El Salvador, but he's not on the roster yet. The Fire still needs to get Umanzor's International Transfer Certificate and P1 work visa before he can officially take the field.
That means he may not be on the field for Saturday's home opener against the San Jose Earthquakes. Once the paperwork is done, however, coach Carlos de los Cobos figures to make good use of Umanzor, a player he has wanted since the Fire returned from six weeks of training camp on the road.
Umanzor, 30, is just 5-8 and 149 but de los Cobos likes his speed. Umanzor spent the last six seasons with Aguila but also made 33 appearances for El Salvador's national team, which was coached by de los Cobos the last four years.
The left back spot was manned by Mike Banner in the season opener at New York and by Polish acquisition Krzysztof Krol in the second game at Colorado. Krol figures to start against San Jose if Umanzor's paperwork isn't completed.
The Fire has another international prospect in training this week in Croatian midfielder Filip Tapalovic. The 33-year old who played for NHK Rijeka of the Croatian first division last season is here on a tryout.
In other preparations for the home opener the Fire has regained central defender Wilman Conde, who missed the Colorado game with a left foot contusion, and Baggio Husidic could start in the midfield if Logan Pause's sore knee doesn't heal in time.

Home opener closes in

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The Fire is building up for Saturday's home opener vs. the San Jose Earthquakes with some off-ice appearances -- from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Thursday at Fox Plaza, 205 N. Michigan; from 4-6:30 p.m. Thursday at ABC studios and from 6:30-7:30 a.m. on Friday at NBC. The Fire will also holds its Sueno MLS tryouts Saturday and Sunday at Montrose Park.
The Earthquakes, meanwhile, are preparing for the match with some notable personnel changes. After signing ex-Fire goalkeeper Jon Busch the 'Quakes picked up Trinidad & Tobago striker Scott Sealey and traded another striker, Quincy Amarikwa, to Colorado. Sealey had three goals and three assists in 14 matches with San Jose in 2008.
San Jose hasn't named its starting goalkeeper for Saturday, but Busch -- who started training with San Jose on Monday -- was signed to be Joe Cannon's backup. Cannon, though, has a sprained left wrist. The 'Quakes also kept third-string goalkeeper Andrew Weber, an indication coach Frank Yallop is still uncertain on his talent at that position.
The signing of Sealey required the 'Quakes to drop a player to stay at the MLS roster limit, and they could have parted with Weber instead of Amarikwa, a popular young player though one who would have had trouble finding playing time after Sealey's arrival.

Comcast SportsNet invited me to spout off on soccer and my other favorite sports topics on the CSN website. Here's the link to it:


http://www.csnchicago.com/pages/five_questions

Fire coach Carlos de los Cobos doesn't have to wait for Deris Umanzor any longer. The defender on El Salvador's national team practiced with the Fire for the first time this week. Some paperwork still needs to be completed before he can appear in a game, however, so he may not be in the lineup for the Fire's home opener against San Jose on Saturday.
Umanzor trained briefly with the Fire in the preseason and played well going all 90 minutes in the last warmup game against Houston before returning to El Salvador.
De los Cobos, who coached El Salvador's national team the last four seasons, has made no secret of his desire to get Umanzor on the Fire roster. He projects him as the starting left back, a position played by Mike Banner in the season opener at New York and by Krzysztof Krol in the second game at Colorado.
Saturday's meeting with San Jose could mean a reunion with former goalkeeper Jon Busch. He signed with the Earthquakes and reported for his first practice on Monday. He was signed as Joe Cannon's backup, however, so Busch might not be in goal against his former teammates.

Major League Soccer has changed in policy regarding designated players, and it could impact subsequent personnel decisions made by the Fire. The club doesn't have a designated player -- a high-profile star who can be signed without severely affecting the league's salary cap.
The Fire lost its lone designated player when Cuauhtemoc Blanco signed with Vercruz of the Mexican league in the offseason. Blanco was paid $2.3 million per season, which virtually matched the Fire's salary cap for the entire team. The new cap is $2.55 million. With a new collective bargaining agreement now in place, MLS teams are allowed to sign at least two designated players and have the option of ``purchasing'' a third for $250,000 that will be dispersed ito all clubs that do not have three DPs. A club will be charged $335,000 for each DP signed.
When the rule went into effect in 2007 teams could only sign one DP.
Just six designated players are on MLS rosters -- Juan Pablo Angel, David Beckham (out with injury), Julian de Guzman, Landon Donovan, Luis Angel Landin, and Freddie Ljungberg.
Former designated players in addition to Blanco, who played for the Fire from 2007 through last season, were Denilson, FC Dallas; Marcelo Gallardo, D.C. United; Claudio Lopez, Kansas City Wizards; and Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Columbus Crew. Barros Schelotto is still active, but no longer a DP.

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This page is an archive of entries from April 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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