CHICAGO — New signing Sebastián Grazzini will make his Fire debut in this Saturday’s Herbalife World Football Challenge match against Manchester United (5 pm ET, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes).
Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas told media during a press conference Thursday that the center attacking midfielder, who signed with the Fire last Thursday, will see some action against the English giants at Soldier Field.
“He’s coming along,” Klopas said. “I think you’ll see him and he’ll get minutes in this game.”
Grazzini won’t play the whole match against Manchester United, however. Klopas said that the Argentine playmaker, who last played on June 11, isn’t yet ready for a full 90 minutes.
“He’s nowhere near where he’s able to go for 90 minutes,” Klopas said. “He finished the season four or five weeks ago and he’s been on a break. Our main focus has been getting him minutes this game and also looking ahead and making sure he’s got a full fitness level for the [August 3 league game against Philadelphia].”
Regardless of how many minutes he plays, Grazzini’s new teammates are looking forward to playing with him for the first time.
“He’s a key player,” Fire defender Cory Gibbs said. “For the two or three days I’ve seen him, honestly he’s sharp. He’s got great attacking abilities and it’s a great pickup for us. We’ve been criticized a lot, not the Chicago Fire but MLS teams, for picking up [foreign] players and not producing, but I think Grazzini is going to be somebody big for us.
“I’m happy with him,” Gibbs added. “He’s got high spirits in the locker room which is always good, and technically he’s just sound.”
Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.