As Sherjill MacDonald made his home debut for the Chicago Fire last Friday, fans saw a player with qualities the team had been missing since Brian McBride’s retirement in 2010.
The bruising 6-0 forward won aerial battles, held up the ball well for supporting attackers and provided danger moments as he continued to work his body into match fitness during the 2-1 victory over Toronto.
The performance wasn’t perfect but it was refreshing to see the Fire clearly add a new dimension to the attack. With his play, the Dutchman has some wondering if he’s ready to see his first start for the club this Sunday at Philadelphia.
“This is something we’ve talked about this week,” said Fire head coach Frank Klopas. “We’ve pushed hard the last two days and obviously the next two days will be key to see how he feels. I think he’s coming along, I think he’s at 70-80% right there. For sure that thought has been in our minds.”
Having come into the team admitting that he wasn’t as fit as his new teammates, MacDonald got 24 minutes on his debut July 28 at San Jose. Against Toronto he played 45. Even as he builds up his fitness, the Ajax youth product admits he’s not ready to go a full 90 minutes.
“I think I’m ready to start,” MacDonald told Chicago-Fire.com Thursday. “If I’m being honest I’m not ready to play a complete game at full capacity. Maybe one more game playing easy or another 45 minutes and then I’m ready to start but its up to the coaches and trainers who are working with me.”
A key talking point among all players since MacDonald and Alvaro Fernandez joined the team last month has been the quality of depth the team has certainly built up in its attacking arsenal.
MacDonald says he’s linking up well with his new offensive teammates.
“I think we have a good attacking half. Guys like Marco [Pappa], [Dominic] Oduro, Patrick [Nyarko], Flaco [Alvaro Fernandez] [Chris] Rolfe and Alex, we have a good mix of technique and speed. We’re deep as well. If someone is starting, you can pull someone else off the bench in support. It’s a good quality to have in the front.”