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Pappa's absence opens doors for Chicago reserves

The Chicago Fire will be without one of their best players and co-leading scorer for at least three games next month, as winger Marco Pappa will play for Guatemala in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Pappa, who is tied for the team lead with four goals this year, will join Guatemala after Saturday’s match against San Jose. The 23-year-old left winger will miss the Fire’s June 4 match against Seattle, the June 9 match at Kansas City and the June 12 match at Columbus.  Pappa, who has started all 10 of the Fire’s league games, could miss additional matches if Guatemala advance to the knockout rounds. 

“Marco is an important player for the team,” Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Wednesday.  “But this is something that happens to a lot of teams, and for that reason we have other players who we will have an opportunity to see.”

The leading candidates to replace Pappa are midfielders Patrick Nyarko and Davis Paul. Paul, a rookie who has played just 45 minutes this season, could see extended time if Nyarko can’t return from a concussion by the time Pappa leaves. 

De los Cobos, who has used a 4-1-4-1 formation for the majority of the season, hinted that he might use a 4-4-2 more frequently while Pappa is gone help replace the Guatemalan’s scoring total. 

“Marco’s improving and he’s maturing, but I have to make the decisions to analyze who will play or who is possible to play,” de los Cobos said.  “It’s an opportunity to play another guy and to see another formation.”

Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com.  Email him at sam.h.stejskal@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.