Fire technical director Frank Klopas (above, left) is bullish about Chicago’s new look roster, telling MLSsoccer.com that he feels like the overhauled squad is working well together, is deeply committed and is in a good position to have a solid 2011.
“I always talk about ‘Tradition, Honor, Passion,’ because it’s important,” said Klopas, who signed 11 new players – and counting – this offseason. “The new players have to understand the tradition of this team; they have to understand what it means to put that jersey on and wear it with honor.
“We have high expectations here and the new players have to understand that and they have to be strong characters because of the pressure that creates. I feel good that all that’s across to the players. They’re committed to doing everything they can to reach the goals that we set forth.”
Of course, commitment doesn’t mean much if the tactical organization isn’t there, a fact that isn’t lost on Klopas.
“We still have to work very hard from a tactical standpoint,” he said. “Carlos [de los Cobos, head coach] has to get across his style of play.”
At the moment, that style of play appears to be a 3-5-2 formation. Chicago used the unique setup often in preseason and it seemed to keep the team well organized in the back, as the Fire’s first team only conceded one goal in its final three preseason games.
“We’re a team that’s very well organized that doesn’t give up a lot of opportunities,” Klopas said. “I think you saw that in preseason and I think it’ll get even better with time.”
The setup will have its first full test this Saturday, when the Fire take on FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park in both teams’ season opener. Klopas is looking forward to the match – and he says his team is ready.
“I feel very good,” he said. “We’re ready to start the season. We work very hard and we’re looking forward to the game in Dallas. It’ll be a good game and the team is ready from a physical and mental standpoint.”
Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.
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