Fire forced into defensive adjustment
But the Fire (4-7-15, 27 points) have no getting around a lineup adjustment this Saturday when they head out west to face the San Jose Earthquakes (5-10-11, 26 points). Left back Gonzalo Segares is not available because of yellow card accumulation.
That puts Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas on the spot as Chicago shoots for a third straight victory to continue its climb into the playoff picture. Will Klopas simply insert a bench player at Segares' left back position, or will he shift multiple players around within the defense and midfield?
"The whole thing is, who do you put there so you don't disrupt too many things?" Klopas said after Wednesday's training. "Because there's a good line of communication now with the group in the middle and stuff like that. It's just making a decision. Sometimes, that's why you sit around all night and you don't go to sleep, and you try to figure out -- is it this guy, is it this guy, is it this guy? But I have the confidence in any of the guys we put out there."
Purely based on the options that Klopas rattled off on Wednesday, it seems like he will not bring up a bench player and move him directly into Segares' spot. The team's left back options are limited, even more so now that midfielder Mike Banner -- who has some experience at left back -- suffered a right ankle sprain during the Fire's reserve game on Tuesday.
In terms of doing the least amount of lineup juggling, shifting center back Cory Gibbs to that slot would appear to be a logical move because of the team's depth at center back with rookie starter Jalil Anibaba, Josip Mikulic and Yamith Cuesta. Right back Dan Gargan also appears to be a frontrunner for Segares' spot.
"We have some different options," Klopas said. "You can put Gargan on the left side, you can put Cory, who's played with the national team on the left side when he grew up, as a left back for one game. There's no issue. I think he's more than ready. But you can put Logan [Pause] at right back and put Gargan on that side, you can put Jalil [Anibaba] at right back. So we do have options. We've been working with different scenarios throughout the week, and we've just got to see what's the best for us for that game."
The Fire have not had a match in more than a week, most recently coming off a 2-1 win over Richmond in the Open Cup semifinals on Aug. 30. Before that, Chicago posted back-to-back MLS victories against Toronto FC and the Colorado Rapids.
In the Rapids match, midfielder Pavel Pardo injured his calf and was subbed out at halftime. Pardo said Wednesday that he is 100 percent for Saturday's match against San Jose.
"I didn't play in the [Open] Cup against Richmond, but that week I rested," Pardo said. "I feel good to get in the game."