The Fire are deeper this winter than they were last season at this time. There's not much doubt about that. Frank Yallop is making sure the team isn't caught flat footed like they were after Arne Friedrich's late camp injury in 2013. The loss of the German center back was probably the most glaring cause for last year's painfully slow start (well that an the inability to score).
In the latest episode of the Fire Confidential Podcast we sat down with Arne Friedrich to discuss a myriad of topics. First and foremost on everyone's mind is whether or not the German defender will make his 2013 debut this Sunday in Houston. He also talked about Austin Berry's development, life in America, his thoughts on MLS, and discussions he's had with former teammates and players in Europe about coming over to the United States.
As we look forward to the end of the offseason and to the start of preseason, we have to wonder what is going through the head of head coach Frank Klopas. What kind of moves will he make? What kind of formations and tactics will he employ throughout the 2013 season? These are the 2 major questions in my mind that I will delve into and try to answer for you.
You better believe it's going to be like this on Saturday night in Sandy. (photo: Getty Images)
OTF Editor Scott Fenwick and two special guests bring you lowdown on what's going on in Fireland and what to expect from the Kings of Utah...
The last time "Red Alert" was sounded in Bridgeview, it was to rally the Fire faithful to Toyota Park for a playoff match last October â€“ one the team ultimately lost after a perplexing downward spiral.
I predicted a 1-0 win in my Fireside Chat. I can't see this being a high scoring game, so if the Men in Red can somehow find a way to net a goal, I think the defense can do the rest to bring a win home today. The back line, while still without Arne Friedrich, has shown marked improvement through the first 3 games.
Sporting KC return to Sporting Park tomorrow for the first time this season when they'll take on the Chicago Fire tomorrow afternoon on NBC Sports as part of the league's "rivalry week." It's the second of three matches that day on NBC or NBC Sports. KC gets to match up with the team that they've tried to build a rivalry with over the past few years since the club's rebranding.
2012 MLS Record: 17 W-11 L-6 D, GD: +5 (4th in East, lost to Houston Dynamo in Eastern Conference knockout round)
Key Additions: M Joel Lindpere (trade), M Jeff Larentowicz (trade), M Brendan King (signed), M Dilly Duka (trade), M Yazid Atouba (SuperDraft), F Maicon Santos (Re-Entry Draft), F Quincy Amarikwa (trade)
Key Losses: GK Jay Nolly (option declined), M Pavel Pardo (retired), M Alvaro FernÃ¡ndez (loan), F Federico Puppo (loan), F Dominic Oduro (traded), F Guillermo Franco (option declined, later retired)
Projected Starting XI - 4-4-2: GK Sean Johnson, LB Gonzalo Segares, CB Arne Friedrich, CB Austin Berry, RB Logan Pause, LM Dilly Duka, CM Jeff Larentowicz, CM Joel Lindpere RM Patrick Nyarko FWD Chris Rolfe FWD Sherjill MacDonald
Optimistic Predictions: The Men in Red turn out to be as good as they played last August and September during their hottest streak of the season.
This should be a very interesting game to watch. While it is still pre-season, we will get a chance to see some players pull on the Quaker red jersey for the first time. Fans should see 2013 debuts tonight from Arne Friedrich, Patrick Nyarko, Sean Johnson, and Dilly Duka.
One other interesting thing to keep an eye on is a couple of new faces that we should see get some time.
Before we get to the action, I want to give a hearty thanks to Brendan Hannan and Jeff Crandall and the rest of the team for their hard work in getting us live streams of these pre-season matches. They are certainly going above and beyond for the fans, and for that they deserve many kudos.
Chicago Fire centerback Austin Berry enjoyed a standout first season in MLS, stepping into the Fire starting lineup and becoming a pillar in their defense. His performances were enough to make him the 2012 MLS Rookie of the Year.
Berry beat out a strong field of candidates that included D.C.
D.C. United will be forced to play both legs of the Eastern Conference final without defender Andy Najar. Major League Soccer's disciplinary committee added two games to his automatic one-game suspension. He would be eligible to play in the MLS [...]
The post Around MLS: Najar Suspended, Burch Apologizes appeared first on Soccer Perspectives.
Herniated discs have forced defender Arne Friedrich into retirement. The Fire's 2012 Defender of the Year confirmed via his personal website this morning that he was terminating his contract with Chicago and retiring effective immediately. After injuring his back and hamstring shortly before the season opener, Friedrich traveled to Germany to receive treatment from a personal trainer and returned on March 27 with high hopes of playing again within a few weeks of his arrival.
The Fire announced today that defender Arne Friedrich was travelling to Germany to continue rehabilitation on the injury which has kept him from participating in the first two games of the 2013 season. The club's 2012 defender of the year will seek treatment from therapist Thomas Fennewald, a specialist who has helped him recover from injuries over the course of his career.
When we recorded the latest episode of the Fire Confidential podcast last Wednesday it seemed that things were moving along with Arne Friedrich's injury recovery and the veteran centerback would be back in the line-up if not for the Houston game then certainly for the upcoming match against Columbus on Saturday.
Arne Friedrich, the German international center back, joined the Chicago Fire in training on Wednesday, March 27, 2013. It was his first training session with the club since returning from Germany where he underwent treatment for the hamstring injury that he suffered in the preseason.
It's no secret. The Fire are in desperate need of a win. On Sunday they'll get a chance to notch that first victory of the season against a club that has also seen their share of injury and underperformance this season. The New York Red Bulls come to Toyota Park with a record of 1-2-2 after picking up their first win of the year last weekend against Philadelphia.
It's going to be a long two weeks. The Fire don't play another MLS regular season game until April 7 against the New York Red Bulls. It will take that long to erase the sour taste of a 4-1 loss to Chivas USA at Toyota Park after controlling much of the first half. The loss raises several legitimate reasons for concern.
With Arne Friedrich's retirement serving as the news of the day on Sunday, I held back on posting the ratings in order to give the veteran defender his due. Now that the announcement has been made we return to regularly scheduled programming. Wins on the road aren't easy to come by in MLS. The Fire's first road victory of 2013 wasn't perfect but it was effective.
Another game against the Philadelphia Union produced the same result, with the same goal scorer, the same player providing the assist, the same mental lapses leading to scores, and the same lack of punch in the offensive third. The biggest difference in this match was that Chicago didn't play nearly as well as they did a week ago facing the same club.
A well deserved three points was earned in this match with Jeff Larentowicz's 83rd minute header providing the difference in a 1-0 win over rival Columbus Crew. Chicago was the better team throughout the game from start to finish and limited Columbus playmaker Gonzalo Higuain to very few touches in dangerous spots while generating plenty of opportunities themselves.
The Houston Dynamo claimed the MLS record for most games played at home without a loss (35) at the expense of the Fire. Chicago played relatively well for most of the match but they were a bit too loose defensively once again. Affording time and space for players like Brad Davis is a recipe for disaster and the Houston playmaker delivered a goal and an assist.
The player that could be the most important piece in correcting the Fire's defensive woes over the first four games of the season returned to practice today at Toyota Park. Arne Friedrich trained with the club for the first time since returning from Germany where he sought to further rehabilitate his injured right hamstring.
The Fire take on Dan Gargan, Jon Busch and the San Jose Earthquakes tonight at 8pm. The match will be streamed live at Chicago-Fire.com or you can watch it here and comment on the proceedings. Jeff Crandall has posted game notes which features information on trialists and guest players. The well traveled Quincy Amarikwa is a guest player for the Fire tonight.