By TYLER DAY
“We’ve got our eyes on trophies,” Fire midfielder Jeff Larentowicz said. “We’ve got enough veteran guys that know how the league works and know what it takes to win.”
That was last week – before the club’s opening day 4-0 pummeling on Sunday at the hands of MLS Cup Champion LA Galaxy.
The Fire entered the season with a certain amount of expectations, built on last year’s playoff spot and quality play in the preseason. Losing to the Galaxy on the road to open the season wasn’t exactly surprising, but the team and its supporters were not pleased with the way they played.
The Fire returned to training Wednesday looking ahead to Saturday’s home opener vs. New England.
“Our team knows we don’t want this to happen again,” said midfielder Joel Lindpere. “We need to be aware there are no easy games in this league.”
The team had an extra-long training session Wednesday to make up for Monday’s travel day and the annual team kickoff luncheon on Tuesday. They were hoping to train outdoors all week, but with a snowstorm in Chicago, they were forced indoors.
“It’s not ideal being in here,” head coach Frank Klopas said, “but you’ve got to stay positive and do the best with what we have.”
The Fire used the opportunity to work on making quick decisions in tight spaces. Klopas was disappointed in how the team was unable to hold possession against the Galaxy and they had far too many turnovers.
One bright spot in Sunday’s loss to LA was Lindpere getting outside a couple of times and providing service into the box. Maicon Santos nearly connected on a header in the first half off a Lindpere cross that would have made it 1-0.
When asked whether the team will try to get Lindpere outside more in coming weeks, Klopas was hesitant, saying, “We need him to be a box-to-box guy. I think he needs to get forward and push up…be someone who can come and help the guys up front.”
Saturday night’s game will be New England’s first of the season after an opening week bye. The Fire owns an impressive 9-3-3 record in home openers since 1998, including a 2-0-3 mark against New England.
The Fire beat the Revolution 2-1 at home last year, but lost both games at New England.
FRIEDRICH AND PAUSE DOUBTFUL
Team captain Logan Pause and starting center back Arne Friedrich are listed as doubtful for this week’s game with injuries, and Klopas confirmed they “probably won’t play.” They both missed last week’s contest with the Galaxy, and the back line struggled all day to stay in front of Robbie Keane and Chicago native Mike Magee, who finished with a hat-trick. Goalkeeper Sean Johnson, who had a standout performance despite the 4-0 result, will again be under pressure without his usual back line.
Still, the season is young – and the team remains optimistic.
“There are half of the teams with 3 points – and half of the teams with 0 points,” said Lindpere. “There is not a big difference. We are looking forward to this game”
NEW TV DEAL FINALIZED
The club also announced this week a deal has been reached to broadcast up to 23 of the Fire’s matches on My50 Chicago, much to the delight of local supporters.
“We are thrilled to announce our new partnership with My50 Chicago as the ‘Home of the Fire’ for Chicago Fire matches throughout the 2013 season,” said Fire COO Atul Khosla. “Placing all of our matches on a local channel and providing destination programming is integral to the growth of our club.”
The first broadcast on My50 Chicago will be on March 24 vs. Chivas USA.