Fire set to shift training camp to Florida
By Len ziehm Special to the Sun-Times February 10, 2011 10:34PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
After holding a two-week training camp indoors, the Fire is ready to head for Florida for the second phase of its preseason drills.
The roster in Florida could be much different than it is for today’s last session at the Bridgeview Sports Dome.
‘‘We’ll have more guys in Florida, and some of the guys we had here won’t be there,’’ technical director Frank Klopas said after Thursday’s training session. Roster decisions will be made over the weekend, with the team flying to Ave Maria University near Naples, Fla., on Monday.
The Fire invited 18 players for tryouts in Bridgeview. Klopas will take the best of those and bring in some new ones for the Florida sessions. Among the other new additions could be a second international striker. Two more spots for internationals are still open.
While each Major League Soccer club can have four internationals, the Fire has announced just one —Uruguayan striker Gaston Puerari.
‘‘We’ve signed another forward, but all the paperwork hasn’t been done,’’ Klopas said. ‘‘We want to bring in three more — one in the back, one in the midfield and one on top.’’
Puerari, 25, had never trained indoors or seen snow before he arrived in Chicago last week.
‘‘The snow is beautiful to look at,’’ he said through a translator. ‘‘[In Uruguay,] there’s just rain. You put on a jacket and play anyway. I’m very happy to be here. This is a beautiful opportunity.’’
Klopas’ acquisitions on offense last season, Mexico’s Nery Castillo and Sweden’s Freddie Ljungberg, didn’t work out. Both jumped to European teams in the offseason. Klopas hopes for more from Puerari.
‘‘[Puerari is a] very smart player,’’ Klopas said. ‘‘He’s good with the ball, can make the final pass and can score.’’
Puerari is adjusting in his first visit to the United States.
‘‘Soccer here is definitely different,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s very technical, faster — and the field is different than natural grass. But I expect to get myself in shape and learn the speed of the game.’’
The Fire has already released one of last year’s rostered players, Salvadoran defender Deris Umanzor, and one player selected in this year’s MLS draft, Rutgers midfielder Yannick Salmon.
The first practice game in Florida will be Thursday against Florida Gulf Coast University. The regular season won’t start until March 19 at FC Dallas, and the home opener is March 24 against Sporting Kansas City.