On Fire: New Brazilian playmaker Alex fitting in quickly

Alex

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New Chicago Fire midfielder Alex is showing he can make an impact.

For the second straight week, the Brazilian came on midway through the second half of a Chicago draw. Against Houston on Tuesday night, he almost registered his MLS goal, cutting through the Dynamo defense in the 80th minute, only to see his shot from just outside the six-yard box blocked by defender Jermaine Taylor in what ended as a 0-0 stalemate.

With uncertainty surrounding fellow attacking midfielder Sebastián Grazzini, Alex may see increased minutes through the second half of the season.

“He’s very tricky, and he can pick the right pass,” midfielder Patick Nyarko told MLSsoccer.com. “He’s pretty special, just like Grazzini. He’s still new to the team and he’s still getting his fitness under him. It’ll still take a few games to settle in with the team and to know what the MLS is all about. He’s a tremendous player, and he’s going to be huge for us.”

Heat adjustment

For the second time in five days, the Fire played on the road in mid-90s temperatures, and coach Frank Klopas made adjustments accordingly.

“We wanted to make sure with the players we put in that we played shorter passes rather than longer passes so we wouldn’t get stretched,” Klopas said. “I think it’s the same for both teams. We have trained in this situation in Chicago, but it’s difficult when you are playing three games in nine days.”

Points without possession

The Fire came away with a point against Houston despite holding less than 40 percent of possession. They were also under 40 percent last Friday in the 1-0 win at Sporting KC.

The possession split wasn’t so lopsided in the first half, but the Fire decided to sit back and hold on to the tie as the game wore on.

“When it got to the second half, with guys tiring at the end of the game, we tried to settle for the point and not go crazy and lose the point we had,” Nyarko said. “I think a point against Houston on the road is good.”