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Versatility key to Fire’s game plan

“The front four or five we can pretty much fill anywhere I think that’s best asset we have” Patrick Nyarko

“The front four or five, we can pretty much fill in anywhere, and I think that’s the best asset we have,” Patrick Nyarko said of the Fire's depth. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

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Updated: July 3, 2012 10:54AM

Soccer matches often can amount to a game of tactical poker between coaches, and it’s fortunate for the Fire’s Frank Klopas that he holds a hand full of wild cards.

Throughout the season, Klopas has maneuvered his players and switched formations to get favorable matchups. The Fire is sure to keep the Columbus Crew guessing Saturday, when it travels to Crew Stadium.

Of course, the Fire couldn’t do that without one of the more versatile teams in MLS.

“It’s a luxury to know that there are players that can play anywhere when needed,” midfielder Patrick Nyarko said. “It helps us in a game, [with] game plans. Teams change formations, so it suits us better. We can adjust, coaches can adjust. We take advantage of our matchups.”

Taking advantage of those matchups not only requires players to train at multiple positions, but also to switch positions mid-game. 

Nyarko and fellow midfielder Marco Pappa switch sides in 10-minute increments throughout the game.

Recently, Klopas moved Sebastian Grazzini from central midfielder to striker and put Nyarko at his more natural position, outside midfielder. He also moved Pavel Pardo to attacking midfielder and captain Logan Pause to holding midfielder.

“The front four or five, we can pretty much fill in anywhere, and I think that’s the best asset we have,” Nyarko said

Six of the regular 11 starters have played at least two positions. Pause has played all four midfield positions and outside back.

“It always adds depth to the team when you’re able to plug different guys in certain spots depending tactically on how you want to play,” Pause said.

The Fire looks to bring in players who can provide depth by playing several positions. With the secondary transfer window opening June 26, the Fire is certain to evaluate players on that basis.

“You know when you look at certain guys that they can play different positions,” Klopas said. “That’s always one of the things that we look at when you bring guys in or even when you’re looking to draft guys out of college. Just the versatility they have is a key.”

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