AVE MARIA, Fla. -- Perhaps the most anticipated part of Sunday’s preseason opener was seeing the pairing of new Fire central midfielders Joel Lindpere and Jeff Larentowicz.
Defensively, the tandem did well, strongly controlling the midfield throughout most of their 30 minute opening session.
Offensively, Lindpere had the best chance of the first frame when he plowed his left-footed strike off the post before follow up attempts were turned away by FGCU ‘keeper Mateus Schuler.
Still with only 30 minutes to play together, both Fire newcomers admitted the partnership still has plenty of room to grow.
HIGHLIGHTS: Fire 2, FGCU 0
“I’ve played with many different players and I think anything like this takes time,” said Lindpere. “We’ll keep working and find the communication. This 30 minutes you can’t see enough really.
"Jeff and I have played many years in MLS and understand preseason – most important is to keep practicing and working together and we’ll get better and better.”
“We’re building,” agreed Larentowicz. “I think in training we’ve been working a bit. This is the first time in a true game situation so it was tough at first but we’re learning together.”
Pause to Right Back
Just as interesting as watching the new Lindpere/Larentowicz partnership was seeing Fire captain Logan Pause pushed to right back.
A mainstay in the center of the park for much of his 11 years in Chicago, Pause has also filled in on the back line when needed and was more than welcoming upon the arrival of Lindpere and Larentowicz.
With Arne Friedrich away from camp for the first phase of preseason, third-year defender and incumbent right back Jalil Anibaba has paired centrally with Austin Berry while here in Florida.
When the former German international returns though, it will be intriguing to see if manager Frank Klopas chooses to keep Pause as the team’s first choice right back or shift Anibaba back over to the flank.
Other Training Camp Tidbits
Kellen Gulley – Fire Homegrown forward Kellen Gulley left training camp Friday night and could potentially go out on loan to an undisclosed foreign club. Stay tuned.
Sam Archer - The team’s Open Tryout winner departed Fire camp Monday afternoon after receiving an offer to trial with Icelandic Premier League club Íþróttabandalag Akraness.
After winning December’s Open Tryout, Archer was invited to the team’s first phase of preseason camp and played 32 minutes as a right midfielder in Sunday’s 2-0 win over Florida Gulf Coast University.
With Archer’s departure, the club currently has 12 trialists in camp ahead of Wednesday’s friendly vs. Columbus.