Rios' international duty forces Frank Klopas to look at midfield options for Toronto clash

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- With Egidio Arevalo Rios away on international duty this past weekend, the Chicago Fire central midfield saw a return to the pairing of Jeff Larentowicz and Alex in the team’s 3-2 win over FC Dallas.

Frank Klopas’ decision to partner the MLS veteran and youthful Brazilian in the middle coincided with the acquisitions of Mike Magee and Bakary Soumare to aid in the team’s turnaround from a 2-7-1 start.

In the return to the setup on Saturday, the combo worked to great measure as the Fire ran out to a 3-0 lead, with Alex’s deflected shot off Magee standing as the second goal.

“I thought it went well,” said Larentowicz. “Alex and I played for a long time in there, we had success throughout the middle part of the year. It was no different Saturday, I think he embraced it and I thought we did pretty well.”

In the match Saturday, Alex seemed to be allowed a little more freedom to push forward than he had been taking earlier this year, pushing the attack on a listless FC Dallas backline while Larentowicz played more of the pure destroyer role right in front of the Fire defenders.

Either way they play, the Fire are 6-2-3 this season when the duo has started together in central midfield.

With Rios returning from two 90-minute performances for Uruguay this past week and the Fire playing a Toronto FC side with similar defensive woes to FC Dallas, Klopas’ decision on who will pair with Larentowicz in midfield could be up in the air.

We just have to see how [Rios] comes out of this game,” said Frank Klopas about Uruguay’s 3-2 win over Argentina on Tuesday. “In these games you need experience but I think we just have to wait and see how he returns.

“We'll have time to do the tactical stuff when he comes back and he has a good understanding of our team but in either case, Rios and Alex are both capable of doing the job vs. Toronto.”

Rios is set to return to Chicago on Thursday.