BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – After Chris Rolfe scored two goals on Sunday against D.C. United, giving him five in six games, the possibility arose that the Chicago Fire didn't need help up top anymore.
They found some anyway.
On Tuesday, Chicago brought in a new Designated Player forward, Juan Luis Anangonó, which may cause a lineup shift up top. If the Ecuadorian does eventually work his way into the starting XI, midfielder Patrick Nyarko thinks Rolfe would fit perfectly behind Anangonó and Magee.
“Personally, I think [Rolfe is most effective] behind the striker because of the tremendous qualities he has,” Nyarko said. “Underneath would be perfect for him. You know he's honest defensively, he would do the defensive work, too.”
When he was asked about the impending deal for Anangonó after Saturday's game, Rolfe said that he'd welcome competition up top. On Tuesday, when Anangonó jogged around the field and underwent fitness tests on his first day in Chicago, Rolfe wasn't exactly eager to talk about the competition.
“Who?” Rolfe said with a quizzical look on his face when asked about his “new teammate” before looking around the training field. “If he was running around the field, I didn't play with him.”
The Fire's 2012 MVP did all he could to hold off any challengers last Saturday, when he earned MLS Player of the Week honors. He's come on strong since he moved further up the field alongside forward Mike Magee, who became the Fire's top goalscorer within weeks of his May arrival.
Although Rolfe and the Fire had a more difficult time scoring when he played underneath another forward, Nyarko doesn't think that was his teammate's fault.
“The most important thing is that when he's getting out of the game, it’s up to us to get him involved in the game and not let him drift out of the game,” Nyarko said. “No matter how bad he's doing, he's going to pull off a play at some point.”
While he's made comments this season to suggest that he's more comfortable playing up top than behind the forwards, Rolfe conceded that he'd be fine playing that position if called upon.
“It could be good,” Rolfe said. “It just depends. If I get put out there, I'll adjust again. It's up to the coaches.”
Anthony Zilis covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com.