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Cory Gibbs won’t let the Fire’s defense rest in 2012

Updated: March 25, 2012 8:19AM

Fire defender Cory Gibbs could easily dwell on what might have been in his career.

A knee injury kept him out of the 2006 World Cup. And though he started 26 games in 2011 with the Fire, the team missed the playoffs.

Good thing for Gibbs that he doesn’t look back. In fact, it’s his resiliency during trying times that has allowed him to emerge as an elite player.

“I went through a transition [in 2005-06] where you just don’t know and you start getting a bit discouraged,” Gibbs said. “What really got me through it was I had a lot of good people on my side.”

When Gibbs joined the Fire last season, it was largely regarded as a rebuilding season, contrary to the high expectations of 2012.

Now comfortable with his teammates and coach Frank Klopas, Gibbs has no qualms with being the team’s vocal leader.

An improved midfield could leave captain Logan Pause out of the starting lineup at times during the season. So younger players could defer to Gibbs on the field.

“Cory’s a veteran guy and we expect him to bring his leadership qualities on the field and push the guys to organize in the back and that’s a lot of the stuff that we’ve been working on,” Klopas said. “He was a key player for us last year and he’s got to continue to be a leader for us this year also.”

Gibbs scored three goals last season and hopes for more this year. At 6-1, he’ll be a target in the box on set pieces.

But his defense must stand out if the Fire is to have success.

“We just have to have the mentality of not giving up goals,” Gibbs said. “That’s our role and that’s our responsibility. We have to have that structure where no team wants to play against us because we’re so strong defensively.”

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