Fire getting boost from Daniel Paladini without Logan Pause
BY SETH GRUEN For Sun-Times Media August 21, 2012 11:48PM
Logan Pause (left) is out four to six weeks with broken ribs he suffered in the Fire's 3-1 victory against the Union on Aug. 12. | Graham Hughes~AP
FIRE AT D.C. UNITED
The facts: 6:30 p.m., CSN, 97.5-FM.
Updated: August 21, 2012 11:53PM
When the Fire found out holding midfielder and captain Logan Pause had broken two ribs during its 3-1 victory against the Philadelphia Union on Aug. 12, the easy part was passing the captain’s armband to fellow holding man Pavel Pardo.
The difficult decision for the Fire coaching staff was determining who would replace Pause, one of the best defensive midfielders in MLS.
After only his second start of the season and first as a holding midfielder in a 2-1 victory against the New England Revolution on Saturday, Daniel Paladini made it look like a no-brainer. The 27-year-old Paladini’s defense was nearly flawless as he stepped into arguably the most important position in the Fire’s 4-2-3-1 formation.
“That’s what we have a team for, and when you’re called upon, you’ve just got to do your best and play for the team, and that’s what I came in there and did,” Paladini said.
Paladini didn’t just make his coaches look good.
After Pause’s injury, Paladini had only a short week to mesh with Pardo in the central midfield. Though the duo played together last season, Paladini has seen action in only eight games this season and rarely saw time with the first team in training.
The explanation for Paladini’s seamless transition into the starting lineup is a common one. While waiting for his opportunity, often being left off the 18-man game-day dress list, he continued to work hard.
But unlike many MLS players who put in the hours to become game fit, Paladini brought an intensity to training that endeared him to his teammates, so much so that Pardo brought up the topic unprompted.
“Daniel was training every day really good,” Pardo said. “This year he hasn’t played as much, but he came here in training and trained hard and gave 100 percent. I’m glad for him because he worked really hard. He got an opportunity to play, and he already did a great job.”
With Pause out four to six weeks, the Fire will need Paladini to replicate Saturday’s efforts.
On Wednesday, the team visits fifth-place D.C. United, which sits only four points behind the fourth-place Fire in the Eastern Conference.
“The guys are ready to step in and perform, and the one thing we told Danny was to just play with confidence, just to play to his ability,” coach Frank Klopas said. “He doesn’t need to do more and let the game come to him because obviously he’s technically a very good player.”