Fire must win midfield battle against Seattle
BY SETH GRUEN For Sun-Times Media April 27, 2012 9:08PM
Updated: May 30, 2012 8:27AM
Fire coach Frank Klopas prefers to talk about his team as a whole rather than spotlight a specific group despite the importance of the midfield in his counterattacking style.
But even the team-oriented Klopas would have to admit that his midfield will be the key in the game Saturday night against the Seattle Sounders at Toyota Park.
The Sounders, who also boast one of the best midfields in MLS, like to put heavy pressure on opponents’ midfields. They’ll challenge the Fire to be patient and judicious with the ball.
“The best part of their team is the midfield,” Fire midfielder and captain Logan Pause said. “They’re so dynamic.
“[Sounders midfielder Osvaldo] Alonso is a key, if not the key. I think he’s one of the best players in the league. So a lot of energy in the midfield. They put you under pressure.”
That seems to be the way teams have tried to counter the Fire’s style of play.
Forwards Patrick Nyarko and Dominic Oduro are efficient at getting into space, which has prompted the Fire midfield to one- or two-touch the ball ahead, rarely playing with the ball at its feet.
Lately, teams have tried to force the Fire to keep the ball longer in midfield, allowing defenses more time to mark Nyarko and Oduro.
‘‘It’s going to be a hard game,” Fire midfielder Pavel Pardo said. “[It’s] going to be a battle for us because they have good midfielders, a good team.
“When we have the ball, we have to be dangerous on offense.”
Pause won’t apologize for being a team that likes to create its offense off the counterattack, but he did mention that he thinks the Fire has the potential to develop other methods of scoring.
“The teams we’ve played have noticed that we’re good on the counter and we have a lot of pace,” Pause said. “[Finding other ways to score] is part of our development.
“We feel like we have good soccer players that can move the ball.”