A lot of MLS preseason is about talent evaluation and it seems that’s what Chicago Fire head coach Frank Klopas got out of his side’s 0-0 tie Sunday afternoon against DC United in Ft. Myers, Fla. to open up the team’s 2012 campaign.
The Fire technical staff deployed 33 players in the match, starting what would widely be considered the team’s first choice 11 for the first 30 minutes before switching to two groups mixing signed players, draftees and trialists on the half hour and hour intervals.
“It was a different mixture through the game,” Klopas told Chicago-Fire.com post-game. More than anything I wanted to see some of the stuff we’ve been focusing on in training and see guys we’re looking at in a match environment.”
The team’s 2011 leading scorer Dominic Oduro used his speed to show a few dangerous moments while winger Patrick Nyarko and Gonzalo Segares caused headaches on the left side.
Klopas also pointed to the presence of veteran midfielder Pavel Pardo’s during the first 30 minutes.
“When we were able to find Pavel in the first half, we were a very good team because he was able to dictate the tempo very well.”
Following a dazzling run through the midfield by Brazilian trialist Alex, the ball fell to third-year Fire attacker Corben Bone on the right who hit a shot just wide of the post in the 38th minute.
Just before the half the Zimbabwean duo of Kheli Dube and Lucky Mkosana combined to nearly put the side ahead going into the break. After a scramble in the box, the veteran Dube came away for the ball before slotting Mkosana in on the left. The Dartmouth product hit a powerful effort to the near post that United keeper Joe Willis did well to hang on to.
Into the last 30 minutes a team of mostly unsigned players did well to keep the match scoreless with trialing goalkeeper Alec Kann making a number of quality saves including a diving stop on United draftee Lance Rozeboom in second half stoppage time.
Klopas pointed to things to improve upon heading into the team’s second preseason match Wednesday vs. Florida Gulf Coast University in Ave Maria, Fla.
“The legs are heavy which is normal but now it’s just about being well organized, staying compact, how to pressure when we don’t have the ball. When we have it, then its the decision making. Obviously we need to do a better job of with that -- talking about when to play quick and when to hold the ball, keeping better possession and making better passes.“
- Having arrived later into camp after obtaining their visas, Guatemalan international Marco Pappa and Uruguayan forward Federico Puppo were kept out of the match. The duo will be available for selection in Wednesday’s match vs. FGCU.
- With Sean Johnson granted time off after completing an offseason of U.S. Men’s National Team and U23 camps, as well as a training stint with Everton FC, veteran goalkeeper Jay Nolly is the only signed goalkeeper in camp. Klopas chose to sit Nolly Sunday in order to give unsigned goalkeepers Carl Woszczynski, Paulo Tornaghi and Alec Kann game minutes.
- Along with Tornaghi and Kann, other trialists that appeared in the match: Ivan Guerrero, Alex, Jon Okafor, Omar Persad, Fabrizio Pittaluga, Walter Restrepo.
- Klopas said the team will give two main groups 45 minutes each, making selective substitutions in Wednesday night’s match vs. FGCU in Ave Maria, Fla.
Jeff Crandall is the Team Writer for the Chicago Fire.