Looking to shore up his back line's organization and guard against the likes of 100-goal scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips, Fire head coach Veljko Paunovic turned to Bastian Schweinsteiger Saturday night against the New York Red Bulls.
Just one week earlier, Schweinsteiger was sent into Chicago's match at Real Salt Lake as an attack-minded halftime substitute and promptly delivered a Goal-of-the-Week caliber strike. Fast-forward to Saturday, and his duties as a focal point on the back line were something entirely different.
Asked following the match about the impact of Schweinsteiger's return to that role, Paunovic interjected with "Fantastic" prior to the completion of the question and went on to praise Schweinsteiger's ability to thrive in just about any assignment.
"Today definitely he was a great leader in our defense," he said. "He also helped in the times when we had to push lines forward, he helped in our organization, but even pushing the guys a little bit higher with his long balls or passes through the lines when he attempted a couple of times. He’s a fantastic leader and he plays the role of all-around player. He’s doing that greatly."
While the Fire limited the Red Bulls' opportunities to the tune of seven total shots with four on goal, the 1-0 result wasn't enough to win the three points for the hosts. Whether Schweinsteiger will continue to be deployed as a sweeper -- as he was a half-dozen times earlier this season -- will vary on the match as the Fire look to pick up points over the remaining nine games of 2018.
"We have to switch plans, we’re also creating different dynamics depending on our opponent, and Bastian is capable of playing different roles for our team," Paunovic said. "It’s going to depend on the opponent."