Despite Fire's struggles, Klopas averse to big lineup moves
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — Though his team got drubbed 4-2 by the league-worst Vancouver Whitecaps last Sunday, Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas isn’t planning on making big lineup changes when Chicago returns to action Saturday at New York (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
“It’s not a point to make drastic changes or anything like that,” Klopas told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “There’s a way that we play and there are 12 games left, and we got to stick to that to the end.”
Klopas said that the main reason he wants to stick with his lineup is to not disrupt the style of play the Fire have cultivated under new midfielders Pável Pardo and Sebastián Grazzini.
Klopas also hinted he’ll stick with the same lone forward formation he’s used in Chicago’s last two games. Some Fire fans have been clamoring for rookie forward Orr Barouch to get a start after his solid substitute performance in Sunday’s loss, but it appears Klopas will stick with the smaller and speedier Dominic Oduro as the lone striker on Saturday.
Both Oduro and Barouch scored in the loss to the Whitecaps.
“I think Orr is a good young player and he’s come in and contributed, for sure,” Klopas said. “But also it’s good to have a lot of pace that you can get behind teams with, especially when Grazzini gets the ball. If you saw the [first] goal we scored against Vancouver it was just great one touch passing and great movement by Dominic and then a great finish.
“[That] also means that you’re able to have some options with Orr, with [forward Diego] Chaves and with [forward Cristian] Nazarit coming in off the bench,” he added. "I just think with Grazzini and the players that we have, you need to be able to have that pace to get behind.”
While he looks set to keep the same attacking personnel, Klopas could switch things around a bit in the back. New acquisition Dan Gargan trained as the first team’s right back on Thursday, pushing captain Logan Pause alongside Pardo at holding midfield and moving Daniel Paladini to the second squad.
Klopas said Thursday that he didn’t yet know if he’ll start Gargan and remove Paladini for the Red Bulls match, saying Pardo’s improving fitness level gives the team several different options.
“We’re trying a couple different things because Pável’s getting fitter and is able to be a guy who can get the ball more and be more of a distributor,” Klopas said. “Gargan is a solid guy that can come in and contribute and can play on either side and is an experienced player. Still haven’t decided which way but we’ve tried some diff options.”
One player who won’t be in the lineup is defender Cory Gibbs, who will miss his second straight game after straining his left groin in the sixth minute of the Fire’s draw against Philadelphia on Aug. 3.
Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal