While Arne Friedrich’s injury absence from the team sheet in Sunday’s season opening loss to LA was surprising, the appearance of Maicon Santos over Sherjill MacDonald also served to raise a few eyebrows.
“I’ve been working hard through preseason but if we go back a month, I wasn’t expecting to be starting,” Santos told Chicago-Fire.com.
MacDonald was the incumbent target forward at the end of 2012 and had started nearly all of the first-team minutes in preseason this year.
Leading up to the game last week though, Fire head coach Frank Klopas said no player’s starting job was safe and the situation seemed to play out when Santos led into the season opener with a strong week of training.
“I just look throughout training and try to figure out the guys who are in better form and how we can combine,” said Klopas. “Throughout the season, when you have some quality depth, you take into account what goes on in training and preseason. Every game can be different.”
Though Fire chances were few and far between in the match, Santos did play a part in all three quality opportunities.
The Brazilian forward headed wide and forced Galaxy ‘keeper Carlo Cudicini to turn the ball over to Chris Rolfe in the first half.
In the second frame, his driving free kick was pushed over the bar by the Italian netminder.
While he didn’t get the start, MacDonald understood Klopas’ decision, given the added depth that exists in the team this season.
“Of course you’re disappointed as a player but I’m a guy that always supports the team,” he said. “One week they can choose Maicon and one week they can choose me. Maybe next game I will start.”
Though MacDonald didn't get the start on Saturday, Klopas still gave high praise to the Dutch forward saying, "He’s still a good player. He’s going to have a very good year and be an impact player for us."
If he does get the nod on Saturday, MacDonald believes earning three points in Saturday’s home opener vs. New England is a necessity.
“I think at home we did very well last season. At home we’re a different team than away. I wouldn’t say its going to be easy but it’ll be easier than playing away. After last week’s result, we need to give our fans a great performance.
“If we’re at home, we always have to look at it as getting the three points.”
Friedrich, Pause Update
Following Sunday's game, both Arne Friedrich (hamstring) and Logan Pause (quad) have remained absent from training.
Asked about their status on Tuesday, Klopas said the pair were being evaluated day-to-day but if they didn't train over the next couple days, it would be "unlikely" for them to play Saturday.