BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – A few notes from the Fire’s Wednesday-morning training session:
Ljungberg substitution explained
Chicago head coach Carlos de los Cobos explained why he decided to remove midfielder/forward Freddie Ljungberg in favor of forward Calen Carr in the 60th minute of last Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Real Salt Lake. He said the reasoning was the need to bring on a true forward so the 10-man Fire would have a better chance of equalizing after Wilman Conde was ejected just before halftime.
The manager also explained why Ljungberg – who played so effectively in a deep-lying role in the Fire’s Sept. 11 match against Philadelphia – spent his entire match playing directly behind Chicago’s forwards.
“I like Freddie playing behind one or two forwards because he’s very dynamic,” de los Cobos said. “I think it’s a good position for him because, if he’s close to the forwards, he can always play a good ball up to them.”
Nery Castillo (hamstring), Dasan Robinson (hamstring) and Steven Kinney (quad) all missed Wednesday’s practice. De los Cobos said the status of all three players for this Saturday’s match against Seattle is unclear.
If they can get healthy, all three would likely start on Saturday. Kinney would play right back, Robinson would fill in for the suspended Conde at center back and Castillo would play at forward.
If the three are unable to go, expect Deris Umanzor to start at right back, Kwame Watson-Siriboe to play in the middle and Patrick Nyarko to come in on the wing, which would leave Collins John alone at forward.
In positive injury news, John Thorrington (hamstring) and Brian McBride (Achilles) both participated fully on Wednesday. Because of injuries, neither player traveled to Salt Lake for last Saturday’s 1-0 loss.
New Fire midfielder Bratislav Ristic made his MLS debut last weekend, starting and playing the entire 90 minutes at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Ristic was one of the Fire’s better players in the match, playing aggressively while in the midfield and holding down the fort at right back after Conde's ejection.
“I think for me for the first game, I played normal,” Ristic told MLSsoccer.com. “I gave the maximum … it wasn’t excellent, but I did fine.”
Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.