Fire will put its depth to the test
BY SETH GRUEN For Sun-Times Media May 9, 2012 12:03AM
Logan Pause, David Estrada
Real Salt Lake at Fire
The facts: 7:30, Ch. 5.2
Updated: June 11, 2012 9:19AM
Fire coach Frank Klopas has praised his team’s depth since the start of the season.
During one of the most grueling months on its schedule, the Fire will have a chance to make its coach look good.
The starting lineups have been consistent for most of the season, but there could be several different lineups in May, considering the short layoffs between games.
The Fire plays Real Salt Lake on Wednesday at Toyota Park and hosts Sporting Kansas City on Saturday to finish a stretch of three games in nine days.
After an eight-day layoff, the Fire plays three games in seven days, beginning with a match in Portland, Ore., against the Timbers on May 20.
“It’s a matter of just making sure that you keep the guys fresh as far as what you’re doing in training, evaluating how guys are feeling,” Klopas said.
“It’s about the team, and guys have to all be ready to step in and help out because it’s a lot of games in a short amount of time. You have to make sure guys stay fresh.”
Fire training has looked vastly different this week than through the first two months of the season. Klopas is focusing almost exclusively on tactical drills while putting the players through a limited amount of match-type simulation.
“There’s such a quick turnaround that at this stage we’re doing a lot of tactical work,” captain Logan Pause said. “We’re just looking to sharpen things. We don’t have the days where we can get after it with high intensity, but that doesn’t mean we don’t put a mentally sharp training session out there.”
Veterans such as Pause and outside back Dan Gargan understand the need to not only manage their training, but their stamina in games, as well. The duo can run nearly eight miles per game.
Klopas’ style of play calls for the midfielders to stay compact in the middle and the outside backs to cover a lot of ground on the sidelines.
“You have to manage each game, and you have to be smart because defending is the first priority as a back,” Gargan said. “So I try and get forward when I feel like I’m feeling good and can help in the attack. I think as the season goes on, you just have to be smart about the spots that you go.”