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Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Fire defender Gargan creating buzz

By Charlie Corr

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Defender Dan Gargan was a bit of a mystery man when he was traded to the Chicago Fire from Toronto FC on July 28.

Chicago appeared to have its defensive group set in stone. Rookie Jalil Anibaba and team captain Logan Pause manned the right back position, and Gonzalo Segares has been the season-long fixture at left back. So it was unknown as to what extent Gargan's immediate impact would be.

Some could argue that when the Fire sent Dasan Robinson to Toronto, the inclusion of Toronto's 2012 second-round draft pick looked like the most enticing part of the entire deal.

But Toronto's loss already has become Chicago's gain.

Gargan has started at right back during the Fire's past three matches, posting a 1-0-2 record. Gargan also tallied a goal against his former Toronto squad on Sunday en route to a much-needed 2-0 Fire win.

It was an uplifting moment for the Fire, who earned only their third victory of the season.

"The moment was definitely heightened because of the [winless] run we've been on," Gargan said. "That goal took a little bit of the pressure off of us to win. That's definitely the most important -- getting those three points and hopefully getting us on the right side toward winning games for a little run that we need to go on."

Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas started Gargan on Aug. 13 against the New York Red Bulls and he has been in the lineup since. Pause was at right back during the previous match, a lopsided 4-2 loss to the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps on Aug. 7. Klopas moved Pause back to his customary defensive midfield slot against the Red Bulls and Gargan made his Fire debut.

"I think a lot of that change probably was predicated upon what happened in Vancouver -- just not a great performance by us," Gargan said. "When I came in here I wanted to be on the field. I think that my worth as a player and where people can really appreciate having me on the team is the approach that I bring day in and day out, to training and to games. That's certainly something that I think Frank took notice of and gave me the opportunity."

While Gargan's Fire tenure still is young, it brings into question why Toronto felt the need to move the 28-year-old defender to Chicago.

"I think that the coaches in Toronto had made it pretty clear to me that they weren't huge fans of mine, for whatever reason," Gargan said. "I thought I personally had a pretty good year the year before (started in 25 of 27 games played with one goal and four assists in 2,237 minutes). I guess the direction they were heading in is going to take some time. I guess they didn't really want to keep me around in the plans. So it is what it is. I'm a lot happier to be here."

Gargan faces another former team when the Fire (3-7-15, 24 points) host the Colorado Rapids (10-6-11, 41 points) this Saturday at Toyota Park. Gargan was drafted by Colorado in 2005 and played in 49 regular-season games and two playoff matches during his tenure. But two major surgeries eventually led to his release.

In 2007, Gargan had a separated shoulder but tried to play through the injury. Shortly after, Gargan tore his ACL on Aug. 16 of that year and underwent surgery. Gargan said that the Rapids' coaching staff wanted him to rush back to get on the pitch to open the 2008 season.

"I didn't necessarily feel 100 percent by any stretch of the imagination," Gargan said.

The Rapids felt they had things covered on the defensive side during Gargan's absence and released him on April 11, 2008.

"The Colorado situation was certainly one that stings a little bit," Gargan said. "Thinking back on that now, I was a lot younger and it was silly for me to even try and do that. They obviously had other plans of what to do with me, and as soon as the doctor cleared me they released me."

Gargan has created a nice buzz for himself in Chicago. Aside from the goal, the Fire's four-man back line of Segares, Cory Gibbs, Anibaba and Gargan pitched a shutout against Toronto.

"It feels good to be a part of a solid back line," Gargan said. "I can't tell you that we had that cohesion at all this year in Toronto. That was certainly something that we were missing. What makes it a lot easier here in Chicago, as opposed to what we were experiencing in Toronto, is there's a lot more work from the guys that are in front of the back line to help out defending. That makes our job in the back line a lot easier. You can kind of focus on your 1-v-1 defending and get the ball to our playmakers."

Gargan is enjoying the new setting, as well.

"I love Chicago as a city. It's a great place," Gargan said. "I've always enjoyed coming here on road trips. So to be here now to live, I'm pretty stoked to experience the city and get a little bit deeper into what it has to offer."