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Fire coach Frank Klopas trusts Austin Berry, Jalil Anibaba

BRIDGEVIEW IL - MAY 12: AustBerry #22 Chicago Fire Kei Kamar#23 Sporting Kansas City go for ball during first half

BRIDGEVIEW, IL - MAY 12: Austin Berry #22 of the Chicago Fire and Kei Kamara #23 of the Sporting Kansas City go for the ball during the first half in an MLS match on May 12, 2012 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)

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Updated: July 1, 2012 11:48AM



Fire coach Frank Klopas would love to trot out the same starting 11 all season, but he knows that won’t happen.

Any talk of lineups with Klopas comes with the caveat that he expects he’ll have to adjust because of injuries.

So when he got word Wednesday that veteran German center back Arne Friedrich would miss three to four weeks with a Grade 2 strain of his right hamstring, it didn’t diminish Klopas’ expectations.

He will demand that rookie Austin Berry and second-year man Jalil Anibaba, who are slotted to play in the middle of the defense, be vocal in organizing the back line.

“For a young guy, I think Austin is a guy who’s vocal, too,” Klopas said. “That’s never been an issue for Jalil.

‘‘Even when we saw him at the [2011] combine, he was the most vocal of that senior class coming out. He’s an experienced guy.”

Berry and Anibaba are confident players, but the duo has had little time to play together.

The first action they saw simultaneously at center back came after Friedrich went down in the first half of the 2-1 victory Saturday against Sporting Kansas City.

The Fire allowed a goal just minutes after Friedrich’s departure, evidence that Berry and Anibaba needed some time to get accustomed to each other.

But after a solid second half and a week of practice together, the two are adamant the defense will remain fluid while Friedrich recovers.

“If you’re good positionally and good at communicating, it helps when you don’t know each other that well,’’ Berry said. ‘‘I think myself, Arne and Jalil are good at that, and our outside backs do a great job of organizing.

‘‘So it’s not just us two; it’s all of us.”

Anibaba has been Klopas’ wild card this season.

An injury to Dan Gargan forced Anibaba to start at outside back against Sporting Kansas City, and Anibaba came in as a substitute at outside back in a 0-0 draw with Real Salt Lake on May 9.

“At this level, you have to play regardless of what situations you’re in,” Anibaba said. “You have to learn on the fly, you have to adapt, and that’s what’s in front of us.”



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