Doran: My final week cornucopia

The nice thing about this time of year is that I can use the word cornucopia and it falls in synch with the Thanksgiving holiday. So here's my little horn of plenty for the final week of the season:

D.C. vs K.C. in L.A.

MLS officials have what they no doubt prayed-for all season: Freddy Adu in MLS Cup. The season started with the teenage phenom coming off the bench in D.C. United's 2-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes on national television back in April. He'll likely play the same role this weekend.

Adu has proven himself. He's a great talent and, having met him this season, I can tell you he possesses a truckload of that off-the-field star quality that will hopefully guide him through a long career here in the USA.

Good things for good people

Fire fans will find deeper meaning in MLS Cup as former Fire captain Peter Nowak and former Fire assistant Tom Soehn coach D.C. United against the Wizards. So many understand and respect the kind of spirit Nowak brought to the field for the "Men in Red." Maybe a few United scarves will be seen in Chicagoland this weekend.

Kicks from the penalty spot

I know our country has produced some tremendous goalkeepers, but most of the shots taken from the penalty spot to decide the winner in the D.C. vs. New England semifinal were atrocious.

The 1-vs.-1 scenario naturally places the weight of the gamble or chance on the goalkeeper's shoulders. There's little or no risk-taking for the shooter - it's more of a technical exercise that can be influenced through practice. The shooting should've been better.

Subtraction - not addition - for Fire goalkeepers

It's not an enviable position for the Fire coaches and management - "how to deal" with and "who to deal" with regarding goalkeepers. This year's starter, Henry Ring, belongs in the top spot on a team roster. But then, one of the league's greatest 'keepers, Zach Thornton, is challenging for the position after returning from Portugal this summer. And D.J. Countess is showing great promise.

I don't see Henry and Zach on the same team. Both are too talented. Unfortunately for them, neither has as much leverage as the Fire front office right now. But good for Fire management for securing two talented goalkeepers - guaranteeing at least one will be around next season.

California - Columbus - California here we come

A great month of soccer is ahead! The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., hosts MLS Cup this weekend, followed by a mid-month World Cup qualifier in chilly Columbus, Ohio, when the U.S. men's national team hosts Jamaica.

Then it's back to Carson for the NCAA Men's College Cup in mid-December and a look at some of the players who could help fill rosters for MLS 2005.

Chris Doran is a television sideline reporter for the Chicago Fire telecasts and play-by-play host for Fire radio. He welcomes your feedback at cdoran4@msn.com.

The views of this column do not necessarily represent the views of the Chicago Fire.


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