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Fire defender Arne Friedrich has played his way into form

Defender Arne Friedrich is as healthy as he has been all season. He says he can imagine returning Fire 2013.

Defender Arne Friedrich is as healthy as he has been all season. He says he can imagine returning to the Fire in 2013. | Victor Decolongon~Getty Images

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SUNDAY

FIRE AT UNION

The facts: 6 p.m., Galavision, 97.5-FM

Updated: September 13, 2012 6:14AM



When a soccer player yells at one of his teammates, it’s typically fodder for controversy in the locker room.

But when center back Arne Friedrich was seen yelling at his teammates during the second half of the Fire’s 2-1 victory Aug. 4
against Toronto FC, it was a big step for the German national.

Not only has Friedrich grown into more of a leadership role with the Fire, but he said that for the first time this season he had the energy to raise his voice to his teammates.

Turns out Friedrich’s on-field pep talk was exactly what the Fire needed to rally from a goal down and the win the game.

‘‘It’s about how my body feels,’’ Friedrich said. ‘‘If you’re tired, you cannot talk that much, like I used to. You can see it always in the body language. This game was a very good game [for] what my shape is, so I felt very good. There will be another game where it’s maybe a little bit different, but I feel better every week.’’

Odds are Friedrich will be heard even more Sunday, when the Fire travels to Philadelphia to take on the Union.

When Friedrich joined the Fire after preseason camp, he hadn’t played soccer for five months
because of a back injury. Then on May 12 against Sporting Kansas City, Friedrich strained his right hamstring, which caused him to miss five games.

He has been injury-free since and is starting to regain the fitness level he had while playing in the German Bundesliga.

‘‘I know he’s not there yet,’’ Fire coach Frank Klopas said. ‘‘I know it’s hard to say because people look and then say you’ve been training for so long. But you cannot underestimate the time that he’s been out and missing the preseason and stuff.’’

While Friedrich’s good health will have an immediate effect on the Fire as it enters the last 21/2 months of the season, the team might benefit in the long term, too.

After practice Friday, Friedrich said he could see himself staying in Chicago for another season instead of returning to play in Germany.

‘‘I could imagine maybe [playing] another year in the MLS,’’ Friedrich said. ‘‘It’s not 100 percent fixed, but this is what I can imagine because I feel great here and it’s a very good town. And if I stay healthy, like the last weeks, then maybe if everything fits, I can imagine staying one more year.’’



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