Steven Kinney

Fire rookies getting their defensive reps

Charlie Corr writes for ESPN Chicago:

It was not the original intention for the Chicago Fire to start their 2010 MLS SuperDraft second- through fourth-round selections in back-to-back matches with a month remaining in the regular season. 

But with the Fire's playoff situation nearly in the dust, this team needs to look toward its future. There is no better place to start than the defense that anchors this squad. 

Fourth-round selection Sean Johnson has become a fixture in the goal for the past 12 matches. Third-round pick and right defensive back Steven Kinney has shown some improved consistency through 10 games and seven starts, netting his first MLS goal against the San Jose Earthquakes last Wednesday. And second-rounder Kwame Watson-Siriboe has played with aggressive muscle at center back, earning five starts this year. 

It wasn't the smoothest of two-game stretches as the rookie class garnered some reps, but the past week was invaluable experience. The Fire had a 3-0 win over San Jose last week, then were dealt a 3-0 loss to a strong FC Dallas side on Saturday. 

"It's definitely a great learning experience," Kinney said following Tuesday's training. "In San Jose we came out with a different energy, and then the next game it was just the other end of the spectrum. You've got to take it in stride and hopefully finish the rest of the season strong." 

When the Fire host the Columbus Crew on Friday, it would be surprising to see the full rookie trio back out there together. But head coach Carlos de los Cobos has thrown various lineups into the fray all season. 

To read the rest of this story, visit ESPN Chicago.