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Fire Notebook: Ex-Inter starlet could fill in for Johnson

Paolo Tornaghi

Photo Credit: 
Courtesy of Chicago Fire

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Chicago Fire coach Frank Klopas has made a decision on his starting goalkeeper for Saturday’s game against Montreal. But he’s not telling who it is.

The Fire coach wouldn’t give any indication whether he’d start veteran Jay Nolly or 23-year-old Inter Milan academy product Paolo Tornaghi (above) while incumbent starter Sean Johnson is away with the US for CONCACAF Olympic qualifying.

“We’ll put the guy out there on Saturday,” Klopas told MLSsoccer.com after Wednesday’s practice. “We’re very comfortable with the guys that we have, and we knew this was going to be the situation.”

Johnson will miss the first three games of the season if the United States make the Olympic qualifying tournament final, leaving Klopas to weigh his options.

“Jay is an experienced guy, and Paolo, his experience is different,” Klopas continued. “He’s not the kid out of the draft or college, he’s been in a good environment. We’re comfortable with either choice.”

Lucky’s back

After finishing three exams, two papers and a few final projects, unsigned rookie attacker Lucky Mkosana has finally completed his Dartmouth education.

Mkosana was gone for 11 days before returning to training on Tuesday for good. The 24-year-old Zimbabwean has gone back and forth between campus and Fire training throughout preseason camp. He’s thankful to be done.

“It’s a huge difference, because you’re not thinking about anything else, just focusing on getting better and catching up with the guys,” Mkosana told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s such a relief.”

The Fire haven’t made a decision yet on whether they’ll sign Mkosana, but want to give themselves time to mull it over.

“He was here for a couple of days and then gone, so it wasn’t really fair to him,” Klopas said. “Now it’s a good chance for us to see him.”

Friedrich’s arrival uncertain

Center back Arne Friedrich is still dealing with the visa process, but Klopas is hopeful the German international will arrive in Chicago by the end of the week. Even if he arrives Friday, the 32-year-old World Cup veteran won’t travel with the team to Montreal.

“We’re hoping to get him here Friday or Saturday, and then start the training with the team next week,” Klopas said. “We’ll see where he is. I’ve talked to him, and our fitness guy has constantly been on the phone with him. I’m sure it’s going to take a certain amount of time for him to get to the level we want him to be.”