It doesn’t matter how much planning goes into a match sometimes, there often seems to be a factor that just can’t be anticipated.
Such was the case last Saturday when Fire left back Gonzalo Segares played substitute striker Federico in on goal before going down following a clumsy challenge from Montreal’s Sanna Nyassi. Puppo’s effort was cut out by Impact keeper Donovan Ricketts but Segares remained on Olympic Stadium’s makeshift surface.
“In the tackle my foot got twisted and I rolled my ankle,” Segares told Chicago-Fire.com this week. “It was really painful and I may have been able to keep going but the team was looking to push the game.”
Already down 1-0 through Davy Arnaud’s 56th minute header, Frank Klopas took little time to call upon Hunter Jumper, the team’s sizable left back selected out of the University of Virginia in January’s MLS SuperDraft. Though a solid player, this likely wasn’t the circumstance Klopas or the 23-year-old defender envisioned in the 68th minute of the match.
Perhaps luckily for Jumper (pictured right), a familiar face was entering at the same time.
“Going into it, it was pretty surreal because obviously there was a huge crowd,” said Jumper. “Right when I was going in Andrew Wenger [who Jumper had played many an ACC game against] came off the bench for Montreal too. While we were standing there waiting to go in, almost at the same time we said to each other, ‘This is pretty funny.’”
Even funnier, it was once again Jumper’s job to mark the former Blue Devil for the final 22 minutes and stoppage time.
You could say he did a great job locking down the left side. He also helped with a leading pass up the left that eventually led to Dominic Oduro’s 71st minute equalizer, helping the Fire escape the unfriendly confines of Olympic Stadium with an important road point.
“In that situation you never want to come out,” said Segares. “With twenty minutes left we were feeling the momentum shifting and beginning to feel the momentum up top. It’s difficult to leave your team in that situation and atmosphere but I think that Hunter came in and did a great job.”
According to Jumper, the trial by Fire in front of the Olympic Stadium record crowd of 58,912 worked out for the best.
“It feels really good to have the game out of the way, especially in an environment like that -- it’s a dome, there are 59,000 people. I feel like from here on, the speed should settle down and next game the crowd will be on our side, rooting for us and not against us.”
For better or worse, the situation shows the planning for the future that was done at January’s MLS SuperDraft. Having a player like Jumper able to come in and not drop off a bit should give Klopas more ease on the left side of defense.
Returning to training this week, Segares looks to be fit ahead of Saturday night’s home opener against the Philadelphia Union.
“I’m feeling alright, my ankle is a little bit sore, but I think it’s better than what I expected,” he said. “I’ve been working with the anti-inflammatory medication and stuff to settle it down but practice has felt good so far this week. I’m really excited for Saturday. We hope that people will definitely be on the stands to come and support us but most importantly, we need the three points to get to the top of the Eastern Conference.”