BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- One interesting lineup choice for Frank Klopas in Saturday’s scoreless draw at KC was the inclusion of Daniel Paladini.
Having seen the team drop their first two matches, Fire head coach Frank Klopas deployed Paladini in place of Joel Lindpere for a more defensive posture in midfield with Jeff Larentowicz.
“Obviously the first two games didn’t go our way,” Paladini told Chicago-Fire.com. “In my situation, I always need to be ready to step in and I felt during training that week and prior to that I’d been performing well and the coaching staff saw that.”
“I’m sure a lot had to do with KC’s mobility in midfield. I thought Jeff and I did well against them. I think the coach’s decision was based on performance and the fact that they would pretty much outnumber us centrally.”
If there was any doubt that Sporting dominated most of the match, one need look only to the final possession statistic which they handily controlled 73 to 23 percent.
Still, the game plan was a blue print of what the Fire did to earn a 1-0 victory in the hostile environment of Sporting Park last June.
READ: Klopas praises Paladini, Johnson performances in KC draw
“It’s exactly what we did last year,” continued Paladini. “We said, they can keep possession and keep it in front of us but if we keep our block tight, they’re not going to get through unless it’s an immaculate shot from 30 yards out.
Last June, the Fire took advantage of one of their few chances, as Marco Pappa and Chris Rolfe caught the KC defense in transition midway through the second half.
On Saturday, Paladini nearly stole the game as Rolfe slotted him into the box late only to see his touch on the ball fail him as Sporting ‘keeper Jimmy Nielsen alertly came off his line to sweep it away.
It’s a play the midfield veteran would like to have back.
“On the first play, I made a run around and I thought Chris was going to slip me through but the ball got caught up and I hesitated because I thought I was going to be offside.
“Right when I did that he got the ball again, knocked it to me and I wasn’t quite ready. When I look at the replay I notice Maicon was sort of in the way and Alex was on my left, there was just a bunch of things.
WATCH: Paladini's Late Game Chance
“With the hindsight, if I had the chance again I would have received it with my left foot, opened up and finished with my right.”
Shortly after that the final whistle blew and while three points were there for the taking, Paladini and co. took to heart what they’d earned on the road.
“After the game I felt like I ran a marathon but sometimes the games are going to be like that. You go into a hostile situation like Kansas City – sold out and loud – it’s fun to be a part of it but you’re glad when it’s over.”
As soon as the game ended, all of the Fire’s traveling party went over to thank the 200-plus from Section 8 Chicago and Sector Latino that countered the partisan Sporting crowd throughout the match.
“The support was amazing. There were almost 20,000 KC fans there and you could still hear the 200 Fire supporters throughout the game.
“It was awesome to have that. It helps us so much in those types of situations. We have some of the best supporters in the league and we really appreciate them.”