Fire backline know they have plenty of work yet to do

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Miscues from the Chicago Fire defense made the team's 3-2 win over Toronto FC last Saturday a close game. But despite those mistakes, one defender in particular had a lot to do with the victory.

Gonzalo Segares’ first goal in more than two years came at a timely moment, when he tied the game up near halftime, just two minutes after Toronto made a surge to take the lead.

GOAL: Segares punches one back for Chicago

“Once they scored their two goals, [the Toronto fans] got back some life,” Segares told MLSsoccer.com. “One minute after they were getting really excited and their celebrations, it was definitely another shock for them.”

Segares put his finger up to his mouth to quiet the Toronto FC crowd. He knows the Fire’s defending had everything to do with their celebrating.

Just two minutes earlier, some messy defending gave the Reds the lead when Ryan Johnson’s pass from inside the penalty area found a wide-open Reggie Lambe at the back post.

“We got caught on a deeper run and we didn’t make the right movement, and we’re just not tracking guys,” Segares said. “It’s just mental lapses that we need to get better.”

That wasn’t the lone defensive miscue the Fire have made in the last few games.

In the Fire’s weather-shortened 1-1 tie against Houston a week earlier, Dynamo forward Will Bruin was able to make a cutting run right through the Chicago defense before scoring the opening goal of the game.

“All of these things come out of mistakes,” Segares said. “Things happen so fast, and we’ve got to be ready to react. The same with Houston, [Bruin] comes in and we didn’t push the line, we could’ve been a little better to shift to cover that hole, and that’s really similar.”

The Fire made a change two weeks ago, when Cory Gibbs was sidelined with a torn meniscus. Former German international center back Arne Friedrich was ready to step in, but the backline is still taking time to jell.

“Backlines, when they find cohesion, they stay together,” coach Frank Klopas said. “You need time to develop that understanding.”

Friedrich has said all along that he knows time will be needed for the group to play to their potential.

But he also knows that Saturday against Seattle (8:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online), they need to be at their best.

“We know that we have a tough team coming in who’s strictly organized all the time, and they are very disciplined,” Friedrich told MLSsoccer.com. “We saw some clips of our game, and we saw some good things and some things we thought we could improve.”

While the Fire defense is still learning to play with a new center back, Friedrich thought the Fire showed something when Segares leveled the game.

“It was very important that we came back when we were down 2-1,” Friedrich said. “It showed the character we have on this team.”