The type of player that can move around at the drop of a hat can become invaluable to a team nursing a number of injuries. When Logan Pause lined up on the right side of the backline in Saturday’s 3-0 loss to Legia Warsaw, I was reminded of former U.S. captain Claudio Reyna’s time at Glasgow Rangers.
One of the most talented and accomplished players the United States has ever produced, Reyna’s years in Scotland were probably his best. An effective central midfielder that ran the U.S. midfield for the better part of a decade, the American captain often played at right back for the Scottish giants as he helped the club to the Scottish League and Cup double in 2000.
In Reyna’s case moving to the backline was sometimes out of necessity and other times because of Rangers crowded midfield. With the injury absence of Tim Ward, shift Saturday night was no different, though it wasn’t the first time he’d played on the right.
“I spent my first couple years in the league bouncing from position to position,” said Pause on Tuesday. “I’ve probably played a season or two at right back and with where we’ve been at in terms of guys being a little banged up they needed a fill-in guy [on Saturday] and my number was called. It’s a different perspective, back there – the job is obviously different. I’m happy to play where I’m needed. Other than taking one on the chin with a 3-0 loss, it was a good experience.”
Taking on teams the caliber of Paris Saint-Germain and Legia Warsaw over the last week was a productive step for the team, though after leaving two points on the field against Kansas City at Community America Ballpark on May 15, the team may have wanted to jump right back into the league season last weekend, especially as the East’s top two teams Columbus and New York did battle last Thursday at Red Bull Arena
“For us we felt like the draw to Kansas City was a loss. Being up 2-0, having pretty good control of the match and then letting them get back into it. When you lose like that, you want to get back out there and pick up points. It’s a long season and you have to put those games behind you quickly in order to focus on the next game. We look at Columbus and New York at the top of the East and we need to get results to stay on their heals.”
Along with Carlos de los Cobos’ experiment with Pause in the back, the Sister Cities International Cup gave time to some Fire players that haven’t seen much of the field this season.
Corben Bone, the club’s first round selection in January’s SuperDraft was one of the bright spots over the two matches. Defender Kwame Watson Siriboe, whose only previous appearance came in replacing Wilman Conde on April 3 in Colorado logged valuable minutes on the backline. Goalkeeper Sean Johnson made his first Fire appearance against PSG and after a three-week injury layoff, Justin Mapp returned to the field with a strong performance.
“It was a wonderful opportunity to get guys chances to play,” said Pause. “A tournament like that is a fantastic experience for our entire team. They’ve got world class players all over the field. Anytime you get to test yourself against clubs of that caliber is great. The results weren’t what we wanted but to be honest it’s more about the overall experience and learning from those types of matches.”
Pause and the Fire have another double-dip this week as they welcome Brimstone Cup rivals FC Dallas to Toyota Park on Thursday before welcoming Italian Super Club AC Milan on Sunday. While playing the Rossoneri will again be a great opportunity for the club to measure itself against top talent, the focus is on the league and anything less than three points against Dallas on Thursday night will be a disappointment.
History is definitely not on the Fire’s side. The Hoops have dominated the series for most of the past decade and the home team has never defeated, or even drawn with FC Dallas since moving to Toyota Park in 2006, going 0-4-0 in that time.
Despite it all Pause feels confident about Thursday.
“I think we’re looking forward to playing at home again, we’ve been home for a little bit but we enjoy playing at Toyota Park. We’re just going into the match only worried about ourselves. Obviously the results haven’t gone the way we wanted over the past few weeks. We’re still a team that’s confident, we feel were better than where the table has us. There’s no doubt it’s a big game for us.”