Fire to host Dynamo in MLS playoff opener
BY SETH GRUEN For Sun-Times Media October 30, 2012 8:20PM
BRIDGEVIEW, IL - OCTOBER 27: Patrick Nyarko #14 of Chicago Fire and Chris Pontius #13 of DC United fight for the ball at Toyota Park on October 27, 2012 in Bridgeview, Illinois. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Updated: December 1, 2012 4:47PM
October was one of the worst months of the Major League Soccer season for the Fire, but that doesn’t mean the team is looking to forget it.
Leading up to its single-elimination playoff game Wednesday against the Houston Dynamo at Toyota Park, the Fire has used the last month to learn what needs to be corrected heading into the postseason.
Sure, the Fire has struggled to finish. That was never more apparent than in a 1-1 tie Saturday against D.C. United. But despite some struggles around the net, the Fire is encouraged it created more than enough chances to win the game.
‘‘We’ve tried to look at some of that stuff as a positive, as not playing our best at the right time in terms of knowing some of the gaps and holes and things we needed to correct,’’ captain Logan Pause said Tuesday.
‘‘The result over the weekend was tough, but we feel like we did more than enough and created enough chances to win. Sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce your way, and for months it was.’’
While the Fire is eager to score, it won’t allow itself to deviate from the philosophy that enabled it to reach the playoffs in the first place. Coach Frank Klopas has said the Fire, which has won with defense all season, will stay compact in an effort to prevent goals. Its 41 goals allowed was tied for the second-fewest in MLS during the regular season.
When given the opportunity, the Fire will push forward. In particular, it will look to use 6-1 center back Arne Friedrich, who is a primary target on set pieces and crosses.
‘‘We spoke about if I get the chance to go in the gaps, then one of the [midfielders] has to stay [back],’’ Friedrich said. ‘‘In the past it went really good, and I’m going to support these guys in the offense. But . . . my first goal is to defend.’’