Taxing schedule in full swing for Fire

Men in red go head to head with three opponents in nine days

Patrick Nyarko

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Getty Images

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – After having two bye weeks in the first five weeks of the season, the Chicago Fire are in the midst of a busy nine days that includes three games. However, that suits at least one fire player just fine.

“We like this kind of period,” said forward Patrick Nyarko (above). “You catch a rhythm rather than playing one week and having the next week off. When games come quick, if you falter in the previous game, you can redeem yourself right away. That gives you confidence to carry yourself through the season.”

But the Fire still have plenty of bumps and bruises after Wednesday’s scoreless draw against Real Salt Lake. Nyarko took a knock to the chest and the ankle and is nursing a groin injury, but said he should be able to play on Saturday when the Fire host Sporting Kansas City (7:30 pm CT, CSN Chicago).

Dan Gargan was taken out of Wednesday’s game in the 51st minute with a nagging foot injury, but he too said he should be ready for Saturday’s game.

Center back Arne Friedrich, meanwhile, hadn’t played in the previous six months before he came to the Fire, and this busy stretch will surely test his stamina.

“My muscles are tired and stiff, but it’s OK,” Friedrich said. “In my special case, it’s pretty hard because I didn’t have any preseason."

Defensive communication good

Friedrich has said during his short tenure with the Fire that the communication on defense needs improvement, but he’s happy with the progress the backline has made. And that includes the recent debut of rookie Austin Berry.

“With Austin, we communicate very well on the pitch,” Friedrich said. “Everybody knows what each other is doing. We didn’t leave that much space for the striker.”

In Berry’s first two games, the Fire defense has allowed just one goal, which came on a penalty kick by Chivas USA forward Juan Pablo Ángel.

“[Friedrich is] a good buddy and makes it easy to talk,” Berry said. “The whole back line has done really well communicating and I thought this was a good game. We did our part and got the shutout this time, so I thought it was a really good showing by us.”

Rolfe running

Forward Chris Rolfe began running this week after spraining his ankle in practice three weeks ago in his second day of training after signing with the club.

“He’s obviously feeling a little bit of pain running, but obviously he’s got to push through it,” head coach Frank Klopas said. “He’s got his soccer shoes on, and he’s running. Every day, he’s pushing a little bit more. It’s a situation, like any sport, you’re going to have to play with pain.”

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