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Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Grazzini likely out as Fire face Salt Lake

By Charlie Corr

The Chicago Fire have won four of their five past matches, but they will likely have to continue pushing on without midfielder Sebastian Grazzini.

Grazzini, who injured his hamstring during the first half of Chicago's 3-2 win over the New England Revolution, is expected to miss Wednesday's match at Real Salt Lake.

The midseason acquisition had a goal and an assist before his departure. Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas told MLSSoccer.com this week that Grazzini would not play against Salt Lake, which is coming off its worst loss of the season, a 4-1 defeat at D.C. United. Grazzini is listed as questionable on the MLS Injury Report.

Klopas likely will return to Baggio Husidic in the midfield for the Fire (6-8-15, 33 points). Husidic replaced Grazzini during Sunday's win over the Revs, and it will be a tough task to match Grazzini's skill set and activity.

"Baggio came in and my message to him was he's got to get the ball and make those passes like Sebastian," Klopas said. "At first he was looking to get behind more and left a little bit of a gap."

Fire defender Cory Gibbs will return from his one-game suspension. For the first time since Chicago's Aug. 27 win over the Colorado Rapids, the Fire will have all of their available defensive options.

On offense, Chicago has tallied five goals and benefited from an own goal in its past two matches against Chivas USA and New England. And for the first time this season with the Dominic Oduro and Patrick Nyarko pairing up front, each forward netted a goal against New England. Oduro's rolling right along with a team-high 11 goals, and for Nyarko it was his first of the season.

Everyone already is familiar with Nyarko's ability to set up players, as evidenced by his team-leading seven assists. But Klopas wants to see Nyarko become more proactive in attacking the goal.

"I've told him at times that he needs to be more selfish, especially now that he's playing on top," Klopas said. "When he gets opportunities as a forward, he's always looking to make that pass. But sometimes he needs to be selfish and finish plays off himself. I was happy for him. Whether he gets assists or getting a goal, that's great for his confidence."

"As a striker you've got to do that," Nyarko said. "But that's not my personality. That's not how I play. I look to play, I look to find people -- the easiest spot to get us a goal and to help the team win. Maybe sometimes I could be [more selfish], but I don't look at it from that standpoint. Especially like I missed a goal [Sunday] that I could have passed to Dom. But I think he was offside. If he wasn't, I would have passed it. That's my game. That's unselfish."

RSL's offense is lead by Alvaro Saborio, who has 10 goals and has scored in Salt Lake's past two matches.

Salt Lake (15-8-6, 51 points) has stamped a playoff spot, and it will take a dominating run and a Los Angeles Galaxy collapse for RSL to think about earning the Supporters' Shield. The Galaxy has a 10-point lead on Salt Lake and a seven-point lead on Seattle Sounders FC.

The pressure is all on the Fire this Wednesday. Chicago sits six points behind the New York Red Bulls who own the final wild card spot at the moment.

The Fire and Salt Lake played to a scoreless draw on June 22 at Toyota Park.