Frank Klopas pleased with defensive effort vs. Columbus, emphasizes back line play vs. Montreal

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- With the side’s 0-0 draw away to Sporting KC on March 16 being an obvious outlier, Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Columbus match marked the first time this season the Fire didn’t concede the first goal.

The Fire’s second clean sheet of the year was down to solid team defense from back to front but head coach Frank Klopas pointed specifically to the play of young center backs Austin Berry and Jalil Anibaba.

“Their attitude has been good and they’re working hard. The tactical work in training helps but also the games that they play.

After some earlier struggles in defense this season, Berry and Anibaba were at the core of the back line's efforts that kept the Crew from registering a shot on goal Saturday.

"No one’s perfect and that’s the case with these guys. With any player, you’re going to continue to make mistakes for sure but you’re hoping you’re learning from the games you’re playing.”

The Fire will hope to earn their first road win of the season this Saturday as they make their first-ever visit to Stade Saputo, home of the Montreal Impact.

The Men in Red were the Impact’s first-ever home MLS opponent last season, playing to a 1-1 season opening draw in front of nearly 60,000 fans at Montreal's Olympic Stadium.

READ: Athletico Injury Report

HIGHLIGHTS: Fire 1, Crew 0


After finishing seventh in the Eastern Conference last season and replacing former Fire midfielder Jesse Marsch with Swiss head coach Marco Schaullibaum, the Impact have run out to an impressive 4-1-1 start on the 2013 campaign and one point out of the top spot in the East.

Klopas recognizes that taking three points in Montreal, where the Impact are 14-4-5 since joining MLS, will be difficult but emphasized earning a result will again come back to a solid defensive effort.

“I felt we played very well against a good team in Columbus last week. I thought we defended well and kept the clean sheet.

"You have to do the same. If you’re on the road and want to get a result, you need to defend well and make sure you take care of the opportunities and convert the ones you get."

Klopas Backs MacDonald

Fire Designated Player Sherjill MacDonald remains goal-less in 2013 and some were rightly disappointed by the fact that he didn’t convert a 46th minute chance in Saturday’s match against Columbus.
Despite the missed opportunity, MacDonald created numerous chances for teammates, most notably his setup of Gonzalo Segares in the 49th minute. Like the Dutchman’s chance three minutes earlier, Crew goalkeeper Andy Greunebaum did well to turn the Costa Rican international’s effort away.

While he hasn’t hit the back of the net yet this season, Klopas is still encouraged by MacDonald’s play.


“With any player it’s about confidence,” he said. “I think in the last game he played well. He had his chances and it’s going to come. When you’re a forward you might miss 99 [chances] but you have to think the next one is going in the net.

“We’re doing the right things, he’s training hard, his fitness level has improved. He’s working and creating chances and I think you have to have that kind of mentality.”