BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Frank Klopas isn't usually a believer in rotations.
But with three crucial games to go, any of which could vault them into the playoff picture or virtually knock them out for good, he has four options at the left midfield position, and it appears he could start any one of them down the stretch.
“You want to stay consistent, but it depends,” Klopas told MLSsoccer.com. “We have options to push the game like we showed with Montreal when we need to. It just depends on the opponent and what we're really trying to do tactically for the team and what area of the game we're trying to improve.”
Of course, Klopas will be forced into a change on Saturday with Arevalo Rios gone for international duty. He'll either go with Logan Pause, like he did against Montreal two weeks ago, or he'll start Alex, the more likely scenario because of the importance of nabbing three points in Dallas.
With Joel Lindpere gone on international duty, that leaves Chris Rolfe and Dilly Duka to compete for a spot at which they've alternated in the past three games, with one finishing off the game for the other in each. For his part, Duka doesn't mind coming in late, which he did last Friday against D.C. United, when the game opens up and he can take advantage of tired legs with his speed.
“For an attacking player that's the best time,” Duka told MLSsoccer.com. “Always in the first half, it's a dog fight. It's harder to catch your rhythm, game after game, just playing 60 minutes then coming out, so I think I would like it better to get that last 30 minutes, because that's when the game opens up. As an attacking player, that's what you want.”
In the last two games of the season, when Rios and Lindpere return, Klopas will have options abound, which he'll use depending on what the Fire need.
Each option on the outside brings something different, with Chris Rolfe's deft technical ability, Duka's speed, Alex's guile, and Joel Lindpere's acumen for crossing, Klopas can afford to play matchups instead of simply relying on who's in form.
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“Normally, it's form early in the year, but you've got guys hitting their strides, not just the first 11, you have the first 16, it's how Frank wants to execute it,” Duka said. “As a player, you can't really look too much into it. When you get your opportunity, you've got to do your thing.”
A loss against FC Dallas, Toronto or New York could mean curtains for the Fire. One of their best attributes may be that they'll keep those teams guessing from week to week.
“All the guys are creative in different ways,” midfielder Patrick Nyarko told MLSsoccer.com. “There's a different way each guy goes about being dangerous and being creative. It's great for the team. You get coaches, you get outside defenders thinking a lot now because you can get different looks, which helps us go about how we attack guys, or how we attack teams.