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New No. 1 GK Dykstra eyes first big test

3/24/2010

The Chicago Fire's newest No. 1 goalkeeper is thrust into the limelight this Saturday. Andrew Dykstra will make his first start in an MLS match when the Fire open their 2010 season against the host New York Red Bulls.

You can add Dykstra to the list of those who were surprised by the Fire's personnel decision to waive previous starting goalkeeper Jon Busch. Now Dykstra will utilize some of the preparation work that Busch and Dykstra's teammates and coaches have instilled in him over the past year.



"It was a little bit of a shock," Dykstra said. "[Busch] was a mentor of mine. That's how I viewed him. He taught me how to be a professional, things like the day-to-day business that makes somebody good, and I used his example to get to where I am now. It was a surprise. I didn't see it coming. I don't know if anybody else did. It was just a big shock. That's really the only word for it."

The memory Fire fans have of Dykstra is his second-half clean sheet during last year's exhibition against Club America, in front of a nearly-packed Toyota Park. The most noteworthy save Dykstra made came on a penalty kick. He also had a shoe-lace level save, which is a good sign coming from the 6-foot-4 goalkeeper.

He stamped his presence as the team's No. 2 following that game. Now he's the main man in the goal box, and naturally there will be a few nerves quickly stepping into this new role.

"That's the thing -- I go into every game a little nervous. I don't know a lot of guys who don't," Dykstra said. "But I've played a lot of games in college and in the PDL when I was with the Richmond Kickers. So I know how games go. I know what to expect, especially with my experience in the Club America game and that atmosphere. All you have to do is concentrate on preparing and work on the spots where you need improvement every day out here [during training] and let it carry over."

One focal point heading into Saturday will be the cohesiveness among Dykstra and the defensive unit.

"I know their tendencies and I know who they are as players," Dykstra said. "I know what to expect from them. [Wilman] Conde and C.J. [Brown] have a ton of experience. They're very smart guys. Tim ward is very skilled -- still a younger guy, but he's a veteran of several years. And I trust all of those guys. I think they're going to do their job. I'm going to try to save their butts and I'm sure they're going to help me when I need it."

Bradley honored: Former Fire head coach Bob Bradley was named 2009 National Coach of the Year by the U.S. Olympic Committee on Wednesday, becoming the first soccer coach to earn the honor since the start of the award in 1996. Bradley led the U.S. Men's National Team to runner-up finishes in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup and CONCACAF Gold Cup, and his squad is now getting ready for this year's FIFA World Cup.

Fire broadcast team named: The Fire announced Wednesday that Dan Kelly and Chris Doran will be the official voices of the team during regionally televised matches for the 2010 MLS season. They will call the action when the Fire host the San Jose Earthquakes at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 10. The team has yet to announce its official broadcast partner.