BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – The Chicago Fire have cycled through Rafael Robayo, Mike Videira and Daniel Paladini as their backup holding midfielder.
But when Pável Pardo picked up an injury two weeks ago, coach Frank Klopas decided to go with a different type of player altogether for the role. And in stepped Alex, normally an attacking midfielder, who brings something decidedly different to the spot.
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“Before, with Pavel and Logan [Pause], those guys tend to stay deep, and when they do get up there, their passes are smart and predictable,” forward Chris Rolfe said. “Alex brings in a little bit of unpredictability, so of course that helps us going forward.”
Alex has played as a holding midfielder in the past, but he’s normally been utilized as a second forward or an attacking midfielder with the Fire.
“My team in Brazil played a 4-4-2, so I have no problem playing the box-to-box, or as a holding defensive midfielder,” Alex told MLSsoccer.com through a translator. “I’ve had to work harder defensively.”
So far, the new lineup worked out in the Fire’s 3-1 win against Montreal and their 2-1 triumph over Columbus. Pardo is questionable once again for Friday’s game against Kansas City (8:30 pm ET, NBCSN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com), so Alex may start.
And although it’s been effective thus far, the attacking lineup has its pitfalls, mostly because Alex and Rolfe aren’t used to having quite so much defensive responsibility.
Rolfe knows that part of the reason the lineup has worked has been Pause’s ability to break up plays in defensive midfield.
“It requires Alex and I to put a little bit more emphasis on defending, which is not our strong suit,” Rolfe said. “But again, by having Logan in there, a lot of people don’t notice it, but he makes our job so much easier. He does a lot of little things that you don’t see.”