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Fire’s back line needs to step up

Updated: May 21, 2013 6:28AM

While the Fire will scour tape of its first six games for the answer to turn around what has been a tumultuous season, it would be well-served to look back even farther.

Last season, the team allowed too many goals early in games. The problem has returned this season.

The Fire has yet to score first all season, but when it hosts the offensively talented Columbus Crew on Saturday at Toyota Park, starting well will be vital.

Though it’s a team issue, the back line must do its job in limiting the Crew’s chances early.

“Early goals happen,” defender Jalil Anibaba said. “I think it’s a matter of how we respond more than anything else. To be fair, as of late we’ve done a better job of responding. But obviously, ideally, we’d like to get up first.”

The Fire hasn’t been able to point to one issue that has caused its struggles, but a back line that has struggled through injuries knows it has to limit soft fouls and the chance for teams to serve crosses into the box.

“We’ve just got to get our movement down, and we’ve had a bunch of different combinations of the back four throughout the season,” center back Austin Berry said. “As a back four, it takes some time to gel and get used to each other’s movement.”

NOTE: Center back Arne Friedrich injured his left hip this week in training and won’t make his season debut Saturday. Friedrich had been recovering from a strained right hamstring, which he suffered the week before the season opener. He returned to Germany for treatment and had been training the last two weeks without pain.

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