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Fire newcomer Ristic in for support

9/22/2010

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- An afterthought from the Chicago Fire's 1-0 loss to Real Salt Lake on Saturday was the debut of their newest arrival, Serbian midfielder Bratislav Ristic.

There were not a whole lot of positives within Chicago's play in the match, but Ristic had a relatively fluid performance as far as debuts go.

"It was good," Ristic said following training on Wednesday. "My first game I felt good and I'm training with the team every day. I feel ready to play, but I need a little bit of time. I need more games to be 100 percent."

Ristic's signing and debut took some time to come to fruition. Back in June, Fire technical director Frank Klopas took a look at Ristic's footage and called him in to train for a few days. At the time, Chicago's roster was full. But in late August, when the Fire released forward Stefan Dimitrov, Ristic was back under the training microscope until he finally secured a contract last week.

Ristic is playing for the remainder of the 2010 season, and he said he has options to extend his stay beyond this year.

While he only has one MLS match under his belt, Ristic's play against RSL showed that he wants to play possession soccer and distribute the ball. Ristic was the Ukrainian First Division's assists leader with 19 during his 2005-06 season with Metalurh Donetsk, so the supporting role is something that has come naturally to him.

"I like to play football -- dribbling, one against one, giving lots of passes," Ristic said. "I'm not scoring. I'm not getting many goals, but I get many assists for the goal."

Ristic has no preference as far as where in the midfield he is used. And with defender Wilman Conde ejected from the RSL match late in the first half for acquiring a pair of yellow cards, Ristic also dropped back to help defensively, mostly at right back.

"I played a little bit behind and tried to do something for the team," Ristic said. "The second half was difficult playing with 10 players."

Brown-Robinson center duo this weekend: Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos is hoping to return to the center back combination of C.J. Brown and Dasan Robinson heading into Saturday's home match against Seattle Sounders FC.

Conde is serving a one-game suspension Saturday, and during the RSL match Robinson moved from right back to the center to compensate for Conde's absence. Robinson also had a strong match in the center during a scoreless draw against Toronto FC on Sept. 8.

Robinson missed Wednesday's training, however, with a lingering hamstring injury.

"Two matches ago we played with C.J. and Dasan, and he played very well," De los Cobos said. "Dasan had a very good match. I hope he can train tomorrow, and if he's healthy and he's ready, he will be good to play [Saturday]."