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Sherjill MacDonald: Fire’s acclimation project

IPSWICH UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 26: Sherjill Macdonald West Bromwich Albiactiduring Pre SeasFriendly match between Ipswich Town West Bromwich AlbiThe

IPSWICH, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 26: Sherjill Macdonald of West Bromwich Albion in action during the Pre Season Friendly match between Ipswich Town and West Bromwich Albion at The Portman Road on July 26, 2008 in Ipswich, England. (Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)

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Updated: September 5, 2012 3:49PM

When Fire striker Sherjill MacDonald and midfielder Alvaro Fernandez arrived in Chicago last week on transfers, MacDonald might have felt a little more comfortable off the field because he’s fluent in English.

But on the field, MacDonald is the one playing catch-up with his teammates.

Fernandez previously played in Seattle and was familiar with the Fire and its players. The Dutch MacDonald, who played in Europe for the last 10 years, is adapting to MLS and his teammates.

The game Saturday against Toronto FC at Toyota Park should provide some indication as to where MacDonald, who began training in earnest this week, is in that process.

“He’s brought a different element to the team, and I think he just needs to get a little fitter and he’ll be a tremendous help,” midfielder Patrick Nyarko said. “We have another option to play with a holdup guy, a strong guy, and he can finish plays.”

MacDonald, who played 26 minutes in the Fire’s 1-1 tie with San Jose last Saturday, will need some time to establish enough fitness to play a full 90 minutes.  

Fernandez and MacDonald are expected to crack the starting lineup at some point, but it’s unclear when that will be. Coach Frank Klopas has been careful to gradually integrate new players.

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