At just days from the start of SuperLiga 2010, Chicago Fire, last year’s runners-up, are revving their engines in preparation for the tournament and know that expectations are high to reach the finals once more.
Questions abound for Carlos de los Cobos’ team, most pressingly the inability to consistently find the back the back of the net.
While Brian McBride is in the midst of a goal-drought, his ally in the attack, Collins John, has played just 25 minutes in MLS so far this season. A variety of reasons have limited the Dutch player’s participation and put into question the possibility of any SuperLiga activity.
As if the offensive troubles weren’t enough, the team has been hampered by injuries, the most important being that of Patrick Nyarko. During Chicago’s 2-1 loss against Columbus on July 3, the Ghanaian player got hurt in a clash with Crew defender Frankie Hejduk and is in doubt for the Fire’s first SuperLiga match against Morelia on Wednesday.
Furthermore, Salvadoran winger Julio Martínez’s exit from the club a couple of weeks ago made it clear that the De los Cobos is beginning to evaluate the effort from his substitutes. Apart from John, whose case differs from the others, it appears that no player's spot on the team is secure and the upcoming international tournament will give them the chance to shine and assure their spots.
With the transfer window about to close, some changes could be in the works for Chicago. However, the team’s focus right now should be SuperLiga, where clubs are forced to either step up or step out in the group stage.
A break from league play, where the Fire have suffered in recent matches, is a welcome relief for the team, but it must not be interpreted as a chance to relax, and De los Cobos warns that his side will take the upcoming tournament very seriously.
“This SuperLiga is a good chance for the players to showcase their abilities,” said the Mexican strategist. “All of them will want to play and the task will be to show that this is a good team.
“We must make a good impression. We know that the tournament is short and we will attempt to do things right to repeat last year’s [SuperLiga] performance.”