BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — When Sebastián Grazzini left the field in the 60th minute of Saturday’s 2-1 win over Columbus, he lifted up his jersey to reveal a T-shirt that said "Thanks Chicago," as he waved to fans.
With his contract set to expire at the end of the month and the Fire yet to pick up his club option, some took Grazzini’s actions as saying goodbye. Coach Frank Klopas said he didn’t think so.
“He loves Chicago, you know,” Klopas said. “He loves the fans. Why would he say goodbye? I think he was saying, ‘Thank you Chicago, I love the fans here.’ You have to be crazy not to want to be part of this organization and the city and the fans that we have.”
GOAL: Pappa surprises with strong blast
Klopas made light of the situation, which took another confusing turn on Saturday.
“It’s a nice shirt,” Klopas said. “I want to borrow it next time, because every goal I can lift it up and say thank you to the fans.”
Defender Arne Friedrich said midweek that he wasn’t ready to start on Saturday because he wasn’t in game fitness yet after recovering from a hamstring strain.
But down a defender after Gonzalo Segares’ 29th-minute red card, Klopas put in the 33-year-old German in the 72nd minute to help preserve the 2-1 win.
“I told Frank if he needed me for 20 or 30 minutes, I’d be there, but for a longer time, I’m pretty tired and still need some training sessions,” Friedrich said. “The muscle is good, which is the most important thing to me.”
The plan was to give Friedrich the day off, but Klopas decided to go with Friedrich’s experience late in the game rather than inserting rookie Hunter Jumper.
“Today, he told me if there was an opportunity to get him in, to get him in,” Klopas said Saturday. “His experience obviously paid off in the end. Coming into the game today, he told me he felt great. Plus, his ability in the air helped because the changes they made showed that they would be playing direct at that point.”
Columbus goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum wasn’t the only one surprised by Marco Pappa’s right-footed blast from 30 yards in the second minute of Saturday’s win, which opened the scoring for the Fire.
“Scoring a goal with my right foot was unbelievable,” the left-footed Guatemalan said. “It definitely surprised me, but this is soccer.”