So far this preseason, we’ve looked at the Fire’s depth in goalkeeping, on the backline and in central midfield as we March to Soccer on Sunday at LA, today we take a look at the team’s strength on the wings.
Now a long veteran midfielder, Patrick Nyarko appears to be the only returning member of last year’s starting group in the middle of the park. Returning for his sixth season in Chicago, Nyarko continues to be one of Major League Soccer’s most underrated players, finding his strengths in his quick feet, ability to beat players on the dribble and dispossess opponents.
The team leader in assists each of the past three seasons, Nyarko received a little extra time to recover from the beating the beating he took as Major League Soccer’s most fouled player in 2012. Nyarko will likely start on the right but has the ability to play on the left or up top if needed.
Acquired from Columbus at the beginning of the month, 23-year-old Dilly Duka appears to be the first choice in replacement of Alvaro Fernandez out left. Having missed the first week and a half of preseason as the Fire and Crew worked through the trade, Duka has done well to adapt in the Fire midfield and looked particularly strong in the team’s Carolina Challenge Cup matches.
HIGHLIGHTS: Fire 2, Battery 1
"Dilly was a player that our technical staff had some admiration for," said Fire President of Soccer Operations Javier Leon. "Like we did with Jeff [Larentowicz] and Joel [Lindpere], we looked at our options abroad and back here and felt that Dilly had more potential to help us this year and going forward."
The former U.S. youth international has shown why Frank Klopas was high on him, delivering good crosses and having the confidence to shoot from distance. Duka has also picked up some of the slack on set pieces, sharing some of the responsibility with Joel Lindpere.
Behind Nyarko and Duka, the Fire have different options out wide depending on the need in-game.
SuperDraft pick Yazid Atouba has been one of the great stories for the Fire this preseason. Somewhat unheralded coming out of the Draft, Atouba has delivered strong offensive performances in substitute roles on the left throughout preseason but Klopas has said the staff still needs to work with him on the more tactical points of the game. Still it seems just a formality that the Cameroonian youth international will be signed.
Corben Bone joined Fire training camp in Phase Two, fresh off a training stint with Team for the World Alliance partners Atletico Madrid last month. The fourth-year midfielder came back with a lot of confidence and has shown well at times which will hopefully translate in more production from Bone in the attacking third this season.
Though it seems more likely he’ll be slotted in as a second forward, Alex can play on the left or right and as we’ve seen a few times now, has the ability to score goals that others simply can’t (see above highlights vs. Charleston). Quincy Amarikwa, who seems likely to be acquired from Toronto FC joins recovering midfielder Victor Pineda as potential wide players.