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Patient Paolo Tornaghi gets his chance in net for Fire

COMMERCE CITY CO - APRIL 1: Paolo Tornaghi #70 Chicago Fire jumps haul shot during their game against Colorado Rapids

COMMERCE CITY, CO - APRIL 1: Paolo Tornaghi #70 of the Chicago Fire jumps to haul in a shot during their game against the Colorado Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park April 1, 2012 in Commerce City, Colorado. (Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images)

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Updated: August 4, 2013 6:36AM

Italian Paolo Tornaghi was enticed to sign with the Fire as a reserve goalkeeper prior to the 2012 season because he knew he would be one of the rare backups in the league guaranteed playing time.

With starter Sean Johnson firmly in the national-team pool, the Fire and Tornaghi knew the team would need his services at some point. But neither party knew it would take this long.

The Fire anticipated Johnson would be playing in the Olympics in the summer of 2012 and that they would play Tornaghi in his absence. But after the United States failed to qualify for the Olympics, Tornaghi was forced to wait and saw only spot duty in 2012.

But Wednesday when the Fire hosts the San Jose Earthquakes at Toyota Park, Tornaghi finally will be in net. With Johnson called to the national team for this month’s Gold Cup, Tornaghi is slated to be the starter through most of July.

“To have some games to play instead of being on the bench all the season was one of the reasons, and for sure I like the people here, the club, the technical staff,” Tornaghi said. “It’s important because now you see all over the world, they are talking about MLS. You see other good Italians, they have a good career in Italy and are coming here and are playing good. So I want to be one of those guys.”

Typically, there would be concern about how a 25-year-old backup keeper would fare, especially with the team having played so well with Johnson in goal.

But Tornaghi has already proven himself capable of playing in big games.

He started the Fire’s season-opener last year in Montreal in front of a crowd of 60,000 fans and allowed only one goal. Tornaghi’s play as the reserve team’s starter also has given the club reason to feel comfortable.

“You’ve just got to give the guy confidence because I don’t think there’s a player that doesn’t make mistakes,” Fire coach Frank Klopas said. “We’ve got to stick together and really focus on the next play when things don’t go our way.”

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