MLS- Chicago Fire

Fire DPs MacDonald, Fernandez eager to contribute for new squad

Fernandez (ISIphotos)


The Chicago Fire returned home from San Jose and resumed training Tuesday morning, shaking off the late equalizer provided by Steven Lenhart as the team now puts the Western Conference in the rear-view mirror, facing only Eastern Conference foes for the remainder of the season.

Going forward, manager Frank Klopas will have additional tools at his disposal, as with the close of the July transfer window Chicago signed Dutch striker Sherjill MacDonald and sent allocation money to Seattle to acquire midfielder Alvaro Fernandez.

Both players occupy Designated Player spots for the club, and while Klopas is happy with the additions, he looks for them to make an immediate impact with the Fire looking to fend off hard-charging Columbus and Philadelphia for the fifth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference while also trying to surpass D.C. United and catch New York, Houston and Sporting Kansas City. Fitness is still an issue for MacDonald, who was out of season prior to joining the team, while Fernandez is match-fit after playing in 14 league games for the Sounders this season.

"With Sherjill, every day is better, and Flaco's fit," Klopas said. "They're good players, Flaco knows the league and knows our team, so that's an easy transition. With Mac, his whole thing is just to get his fitness and get games."

MacDonald is already pleased with his progress the last week as he has been training with the Fire. While he appeared for the club as a second half sub in Chicago's draw to San Jose and set up a great scoring chance for Logan Pause that was saved by Jon Busch, he looks forward to getting fully fit and making an impact with the club. 

"Today was a much better training session (than last week)," said MacDonald, a 27-year-old veteran who most recently played for Belgian club Beerschot. "Every day I'm getting better with my teammates, and also my fitness level is getting better. I'm very satisfied. I'm maybe 70 percent fit, also the sharpness in front of goal and the quick movements aren't there yet, but I think it's getting better. I'm making progress step by step."

When asked if he was ready to go the full 90 minutes, he indicated that it may take time to work up to that.

"I don't think so," MacDonald said. "After eight weeks of playing 20 minutes, it is difficult. Normally I have a preparation of six weeks, but I didn't have that now. But I want to play 90 minutes as fast as possible."

Fernandez, however, has no such problem. Fernandez, the second DP to join Chicago from Seattle following Freddie Ljungberg, has logged regular minutes for the Sounders through the first half of the season, and is fully fit and prepared to make an immediate impact.

"It's up to the coaches," Fernandez said. "Physically, I'm fine, I trained all the way until Friday. Again, it's just up to the coaches and for me to learn the system here and the team."

In spite of finding his fit in Chicago's system, Fernandez was happy with his first training session in Chicago.

"It went well, I'm trying to fit in and getting to know new teammates. Hopefully I'll continue to improve every day."

  • firestarter

    The Fire are going nowhere fast – and that is from a Fire supporter. Klopas will be back to coaching a MISL team next year. He has been a dismal failure with no eye for talent.


  • Ryan

    You have to be kidding me. He isn’t TD anymore, so he isn’t the main person in charge of making signings anyway. He has a winning record so far in his tenure, how is that a dismal failure? If you are going to throw out ridiculous statements, at least try to back them up. Wow.


  • Mike r

    He was a dismall failure as a talent evaluator. Hes an ok coach. He’s no Maurinho but he’s par for the course. Let’s face it there are no great coaches in MLS ( except maybe Arena in his own mind). However whoever evaluates talent know is a worse talent evaluator. Barry was a great pick ….but also an easy and safe

    Grazzini is the only quality they brought it and since they are to cheap to pay Him he will be back in the league in 2 years overpaid injured and playing for NJ metro Bulls


  • Ryan

    Keep in mind he is still learning as a coach. To say he has been a dismal failure is just plain wrong. The Fire are 6 points out of first. We just came off the road against the best team in the West with a point (should have been 3). We are just fine. Anibaba has done well. They brought Tornaghi in, who has done well in his limited time. Yes there have been flops, but also successes too. The guy has been head coach for a year and a half. Bit of a small sample size to be judging this early.

    Would you rather be Toronto? We are in the drivers seat for the playoffs with a fairly easy schedule to close out the season. There is no reason we can’t finish in the top 3 in the East. If you view that as a dismal failure I feel sorry for you.


  • Charles

    There are NO great MLS coaches.

    Hmmm. I guess I expect too much for someone who throws out absurdities like that to give a Dom Kinnear type credit.


  • Eric

    Klopas hasn’t had much to work with in terms of talent. Despite being in such a big market, the ownership has shown very little willingness to open up the wallets. People can claim Klopas is a poor talent evaluator or a poor coach but the fact is that he doesn’t have a strong financial backing from ownership. Hauptman simply refused to spend a lot of money on the team. He’s content to have a profitable team and doesn’t seem to care that much about on-field success at times.


  • Ben

    I consider Pardo and Friedrich good pickups and bringing Rolfe and Sega back into the fold were good moves as well. Flaco is a great pickup as well considering Pappa will be gone at the end of the season. Oduro came in from Houston and has played very well for us up until lately. Don’t forget Anibaba and Johnson where pickups in the Draft as well that have given us a very dependable defense. Every team has people that don’t play out how you would like and the Fire successfully loaned out Puppo and Robayo just recently.

    Also, we still have the rights to Grazzini I believe so I think someone would have to pay us if he wants to come back to the MLS.


  • Weaksauce

    Chicago Fire need a complete overhaul. They need a new owner with some deep $$$.

    1. Chicago needs a rebrand. Chicago FC 1871 or something. The name alone competes with an historic event, fire department and a TV show
    2. New Stadium in the downtown (40,000)
    3. World Class DP’s – Some well known Polish and Italian players


  • Chris

    Lol your name pretty much sums up your comments. The Fire are fine they just need to win more.


  • Modibo

    “there are no great coaches in MLS”

    Uh, ok. Let’s think about that one a bit. What do you mean by “great”? It sounds like what you’re saying is that MLS coaches have not been able to compete on an international stage and win. That has more to do with how MLS is structured than with the skill of the coach.

    How successful have all the imported hotshot coaches been? Winter and Gullit did’n’t fare so well, did they, despite the expectations. We can go on with other names, but the point is that they didn’t understand the league.

    Coaches who have succeeded in the league, like Arena, Nichols, Yallop, Bradley, and Kinnear, get the rules. They play within them and yet know the loopholes. Greatness means taking the hand you’ve been dealt and getting the most out of it. Other coaches can’t get their heads around that, and they flounder – or the owners or FOs don’t deliver for them. It’s not to say that MLS is a top-tier league, but without tremendous reserves of talent or a deep pocketed owner, some of the same coaches who achieve success elsewhere might not look so great.


  • Sticky

    Enough with the Polish players already. Let’s get GREAT players, preferably goalscorers or playmakers, regardless of origin. Blanco brought in WAAAY more fans than any Polish player. It was only partially because he was Mexican. It was mostly because he was entertaining, unpredictable, and created goals.


  • Raul

    Hauptman has opened up his pocketbook. The fire had blanco, Nery, and Freddie as DPs. Those didn’t pan out but he wrote the checks. Also, seriously? Someone suggested the fire re brand and build a 40k stadium in downtown Chicago? Haha


  • jdw

    Fire fans are the most impossible to please in the league. We’ve been one of the most consistent teams for 15 years almost now…let’s enjoy this ride and root for the playoffs.


  • josh

    Profitable team??? Lol

    polish players? I don’t care what country a player is.from as long they are good. if you only cheer for a player base on their country of.birth or ethic background then we don’t need you around so please stay away.

    Chicagio FC? Why not name them Sporting Chicago while you are at it!!! we have a great name and don’t need to become a wannabe European team.


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