Juan Luis Anangono
Brian Kersey Chicago Fire

Chicago Fire ready to unleash Juan Luis Anangono's full potential in playoff race

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – In the Chicago Fire's 3-2 win over New England two weeks ago, Juan Luis Anangonó showed he had the ability to score in MLS with a 30th-minute goal.

With his second start in a row in last Saturday's 3-0 loss to Columbus, coach Frank Klopas showed his intention of making him a regular starter. And despite the scoreline, Klopas was pleased with the display by the Ecuadorian forward, who almost scored when his 37th minute header knocked off the post.

“He did well in that game,” Klopas said. “I think he helped us also on set pieces. I think that's an area [Columbus were] really good at, with their two big center backs. Listen, it was a little bit difficult playing short-handed … I thought he did extremely well.”

After the Fire paid a transfer fee to acquire him from Ecuadorian club El Nacional, Anangonó always seemed confident he'd find significant playing time once he regained his form and fitness after a layoff.

“In the beginning, I just wasn't fitness-wise ready,” he told MLSsoccer.com through a translator. “I wasn't playing a lot so I didn't have a rhythm. As I've played more, I've become more comfortable and I'm in better shape.”

Forward Mike Magee was the beneficiary of Anangonó's strong play two weeks ago when the 6-foot-1 striker held off a New England defender to spring Magee free for an open goal.

After a four-game period of time in which Anangonó was used exclusively as a substitute, Magee thinks the Fire have unleashed an important weapon as they try to climb back into a playoff spot with five games left.

“I'm happy for him. I think this league is really hard to come into,” Magee told MLSsoccer.com. “You see a lot of South American guys that had transition periods that are really long. I don't want to jinx him, but I feel like he's already transitioned into the league and he knows how to be successful.”

Anthony Zilis covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com.