Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Fire's Grazzini, Oduro to miss friendly
By Charlie Corr
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The Chicago Fire more or less are approaching Wednesday's international friendly against Chivas de Guadalajara as a high-profile training session. Midweek typically marks Chicago's hardest training to prepare for a weekend match, and Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas plans to use his lineup significantly when it hosts Chivas at Toyota Park.
"You get better by playing," Klopas said. "You can do certain things out here [in training]. The stuff we want to do out here, it's better to be doing against a very good opponent."
There will be plenty of caution thrown into this match. Fire forward Dominic Oduro hurt his ankle during the Fire's 2-0 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, and Sebastian Grazzini's hamstring still is tight, Klopas said.
"I don't see them playing," Klopas said.
Pretty much everyone else will get some time on the pitch. Klopas said following Tuesday's training that he wants to get everyone about 45 minutes of playing time. One unknown is forward and Chicago Fire Juniors-Mississippi product Kellen Gulley. Gulley will not play in a league match for the first team until 2012, but he has been training, playing for the reserve squad and is an eligible option if Klopas decides to put Gulley on his 10-player bench for Wednesday.
Chivas certainly is a team that Fire midfielder and Guadalajara native Pavel Pardo is familiar with. Pardo played for Guadalajara-based Atlas and Club America -- the latter being the bigger competitive rival.
"When I went to America, it was huge because the whole country and everybody knows about America-Chivas," Pardo said.
Pardo also will face one of his former coaches, Jose Luis Real Casillas, who briefly headed Atlas during Pardo's tenure.
"Their coach was in Atlas when I was there, and he built the youth system in Atlas that is working -- U-17, U-16, U-15, and all the young players," Pardo said. "Chivas has developed its youth [players]."
Fire defender Gonzalo Segares returns to the pitch after serving his one-game suspension (yellow card accumulation) against San Jose. Chicago had to play without its left back against the Quakes, moving Dan Gargan into Segares' position.
"I definitely wanted to be there to help my team, especially because it was such an important game," Segares said. "The motivation was high and it was a good opportunity to keep climbing up. Unfortunately we couldn't get the points, but now for me [Wednesday] on the field, I can get some minutes to try to be in a rhythm for Saturday, which is going to be a key for us."
Saturday's Chivas USA match is the ultimate focus as Chicago needs to make up some further ground as it sits in a three-way tie for last place in the Eastern Conference with 27 points and a 4-8-15 record.
"It's always exciting to play in situations like this for sure," Klopas said of Wednesday's match. "For us, we have a big game against Chivas USA -- not Chivas Mexico -- coming up on Saturday, and this is going to be an opportunity where we're still continuing to build and make sure everyone gets a good run so they're staying sharp."