Will newcomer Fernandez shake up Fire offensive scheme?

Alvaro Fernandez CHIvTOR

Photo Credit: 
Courtesy of Chicago Fire

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Chicago Fire head coach Frank Klopas saw how dangerous Álvaro Fernández was in the early going of the Fire’s 2-0 US Open Cup loss to Seattle last year, so he shifted defensive midfielder Logan Pause from the right to the left side to minimize the Uruguayan’s effectiveness.

Fernández still almost scored in the 44th minute, when he broke free from Pause to make a streaking run into the box to volley a powerful shot, which Sean Johnson saved.

Fast forward nearly a year and Fernández is suddenly the latest addition for the Fire and a player who could shake up the team’s offense as the playoff push begins.

The day Chicago acquired Fernández, Klopas said he might slide winger Marco Pappa into the middle of the field, a position that has been free for the taking since Sebastián Grazzini left the team in early August.

But just where Fernández will fit in his home debut against Toronto FC on Saturday (8:30 pm ET, MLS Live) is still up in the air.

“I don’t know how we’re going to start,” Pappa told MLSsoccer.com. “Fernández is a really good player. I think he can add a lot to the team.”

Fernández sat, while fellow newcomer Sherjill MacDonald came on in the 65th minute in the team’s 1-1 draw at San Jose last Saturday, and the Fire had one of their most forward-thinking games since Grazzini left, with 20 attempts on goal.

In their previous five games, they never totaled more than 13.

Despite losing their 1-0 lead in the eighth minute of stoppage time, the Fire felt good about their offensive performances in one of their final game before a possible lineup change.

“I think the offensive flow was impressive,” forward Patrick Nyarko said. “We moved the ball, we stayed disciplined. It was disheartening losing the points at the end, but it was encouraging to see the movement of the ball. On a bigger field, that can feel deadly.”