Chicago Fire's Klopas slotting in Chris Rolfe, Patrick Nyarko tandem to bolster lackluster offense

Frank Klopas, March 9, 2013

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BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – The Chicago Fire haven't been getting what they expected from forward Sherjill MacDonald, and head coach Frank Klopas was prepared to sit his team's only Designated Player this past Saturday against the Philadelphia Union, even before MacDonald came down with a case of strep throat.

“Mac was sick, but regardless I was going to play with Patrick [Nyarko] and [Chris] Rolfe even if he wasn't sick,” Klopas said. “I wouldn't change Patrick up there.”

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The Fire were shut out in half of their first eight games, which prompted Klopas to sit the high-priced forward for the second time this season. Instead, Klopas decided to move Nyarko, one of Chicago's most dangerous attacking players, to MacDonald's spot, with Rolfe playing underneath him.

“We tried it for nine games and we had to look at other options,” Klopas said. “Right now, we're not getting it done as far as scoring. In nine games, we haven't scored [enough].”

The duo do have experience playing up top, but not since Rolfe left the team in 2009. They'll play together for the foreseeable future, because Maicon Santos suffered a shoulder injury that could keep him out for a few weeks and MacDonald appears to be out of favor.

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Both Rolfe and Nyarko tend to drop back into the midfield, where they've played a large portion of their careers, more naturally initiating attacks rather than finishing them offf. So Klopas said limiting their responsibilities in that zone – and forcing them to go forward – will be key.

“Obviously our ability to push and stay more connected [has to improve]. Chris has worked off the ball, sometimes too much, where we get it and that energy that we need for him to finish in the final third wasn't there,” Klopas said. “Patrick has done it in the past, when we had [Sebastián] Grazzini and Dom [Oduro]. He's played there. Now, [we need to] free him up to make his responsibilities a little bit less with tracking back.”