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Fire’s Dominic Oduro unfazed by competition for playing time

Speedy forward Dominic Oduro who is second Fire with five goals hasn’t scored since June 23. | John Smierciak~AP

Speedy forward Dominic Oduro, who is second on the Fire with five goals, hasn’t scored since June 23. | John Smierciak~AP

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The facts: 7:30 p.m., CSN.

Updated: October 16, 2012 6:12AM

Throughout much of the season, Fire striker Dominic Oduro has played the role of scapegoat.

Earlier in the season, when the team was struggling to score and Oduro was the starting forward, the Fire’s reaction was to sign Dutch striker Sherjill MacDonald and jettison Oduro from the starting lineup.

On Friday, the Fire announced the signing of striker Guillermo Franco, a two-time World Cup veteran, giving Oduro even more competition for playing time.

Despite all the changes, the Ghanaian striker’s outlook remains unchanged.

“You always have your ups and downs, and this is where you have to show character,” Oduro said. “This is where you have to be a true professional.

“It’s a little bit tough because you always want to be on the field and play. But at the end of the day, you just have to think about the team.”

Coach Frank Klopas affirmed that he’ll continue to use Oduro, putting to rest any doubt that Franco is his replacement.

“Oduro’s got a lot of pace, and I don’t think [Franco is] going to outrun Oduro,” Klopas said. “But maybe he’s better in the air and in the box.

As for Franco, a 35-year-old Mexican international, it was unclear what his impact would be at this late juncture.

“My expectations are pretty tempered,” Franco said. “I know I’m coming in toward the end of the season and don’t have a whole lot of time to catch up. But it’s my expectation that I will contribute my experience to this team.”

Though Oduro hasn’t scored since June 23, it would be prudent for Klopas to keep him on the 18-man dress list moving forward.

He might not have the best touch and his ability to finish has come into question, but Oduro provides the Fire with world-class speed that puts tremendous pressure on opposing defenses.

Though he is primarily an offensive player, Oduro often helps the Fire defensively. When the Fire has a lead and Oduro enters the game, he restricts an opponent’s ability to push forward. It must respect Oduro’s speed and keep men on the defensive.

He should be a factor Saturday against the Montreal Impact at Toyota Park. He was the Fire’s only goal-scorer in its 1-1 tie in the season opener at Montreal.

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