Fire aims to bounce back from embarrassing loss
BY SETH GRUEN For Sun-Times Media March 8, 2013 9:34PM
Updated: April 10, 2013 6:16AM
Fire players and coaches have said they’re tired of discussing the team’s 4-0 season-opening loss to the Galaxy on Sunday in Los Angeles.
But as much as they’ve tried to move on publicly, their training sessions largely have focused on righting the mistakes of the embarrassing defeat.
The Fire was deficient in nearly every defensive category Sunday, largely because the team was without center back Arne Friedrich, who re-aggravated a hamstring injury.
Friedrich, who played 10 years with the German national team, largely is responsible for organizing the back line. Without him, the defense looked somewhat lost, often failing to close on Galaxy attackers.
“We’re not used to playing with each other yet, but we’ve had a significant amount of the preseason to get acclimated a little bit because Arne missed a bit of that,” center back Austin Berry said. “I’m not making excuses, but it was our first game playing, not a makeshift back four, but a bunch of new guys. So you kind of just got to take all the learning points from that game and just move on with it.”
Friedrich will miss the home opener Saturday against the New England Revolution.
That will give Berry, the MLS rookie of the year last season, more of a leadership role. Berry and coach Frank Klopas said that fatigue was a factor Sunday. The Galaxy put relentless pressure on the Fire’s back line, giving it little time to rest.
“Everyone needs to step up, especially me, to communicate and lead the back line,” Berry said.
“When you get tired, you kind of lose it mentally a little bit and your communication goes down and kind of tactically you get spread out. I think in the second half we were spread out and there was a lot of space.”
Not surprisingly, the Fire is calling the effort an aberration and isn’t panicking.
“Formations really don’t mean anything. It’s the players on the field. I think we’re ready for everything,” Klopas said. “We’re prepared, and now we need to go out there and I know we’ll have a better game than we did the last one.”