One-on-One: Klopas on Defensive Depth

With back line returning, who steps up in reserves?

Frank Klopas

Photo Credit: 
Brian Kersey Chicago Fire

In the first part of my sit-down with Fire head coach Frank Klopas on Monday, we discussed the Technical Staff’s offseason scouting tours and his thoughts on building on the team’s depth in 2013.

Today, I get Frank’s thoughts on where the team’s defensive depth is heading into his second full-campaign.

Ever since defender Dan Gargan was selected in the second phase of the MLS Re-Entry process last month, a popular question has been how the Fire will replace their once starting right back turned utility defender.

One of five back liners to log a majority of the minutes in defense in 2012, Gargan lost his starting role at midseason to Jalil Anibaba but still filled in during a number of games whether as a late game substitute or on the left.


Anibaba has won the starting right back job

“I think it was very competitive in defense last year,” Klopas told Chicago-Fire.com. “You always want to create situations in every spot that are competitive and Dan made that decision for us even harder with his work ethic.

“With every season here it always comes down to the salary budget and having to make some tough moves to create some space and get better in certain areas where you don’t have much depth. I felt in that spot we did. We made a decision with Jalil and I think he had a good season but he has a lot of room to continue to grow and improve.”

With all four defensive starters returning, Gargan’s move to San Jose during last month’s MLS Re-Entry process opened up questions of who would play that sometimes starter, utility defender role.

“I felt that we had other players that could step in – guys that we used in different areas of the field that could come in, push and compete for a starting spot.”

The player that immediately comes to mind is captain and midfielder Logan Pause who has often filled in at right back over the course of his previous 10 season in Chicago.

Sitting in reserve, the team currently has converted midfielder Michael Videira who saw time at right back in 2011 and has been deployed as a center back in friendly and Reserve League play.

Second-year defender Hunter Jumper deputized behind Segares at left back and paired with Videira in friendly and reserve league play while another converted midfielder Tony Walls has seen minutes on the right.

One name sometimes forgotten in the equation is fourth-year defender Steven Kinney. The Elon University product showed a lot of promise in the middle but mostly on the right during his 2010 rookie campaign before an achilles tear and subsequent injuries kept him from making an appearance the past two seasons.

There are options, albeit not quite as experienced as what Gargan provided and so Klopas signaled that adding depth in defense could still happen before the start of the season.

“Our goal is to try and bring guys to compete in every spot and make it very difficult for us as coaches in our selections. Creating competition makes our team better.”

In Part Three on Wednesday, I talk to Frank about the offseason additions made to the attack.