BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Arne Friedrich almost scored his first goal from the run of play for the Chicago Fire in this past Saturday’s 2-0 win over New York when he charged forward, leading a counterattack in the 53rd minute. Looking much more like an attacker than a central defender, he slipped through the RBNY midfield and received a pass just outside the six-yard box from Sherjill MacDonald.
However, the former German international couldn’t quite turn his body to get the amount of power on his shot that he would have liked, and goalkeeper Luis Robles was able to parry it away.
“It was a little bit in my back, a little bit high, so my hips are not that young anymore,” Friedrich told MLSsoccer.com. “So maybe this is the reason why I didn’t score.”
In spite of his age, the 33-year-old still proved he has the ability to step in and help the offense.
“He didn’t look like a center back out there, he looked like a center forward,” Friedrich's central defensive partner Austin Berry told MLSsoccer.com. “He can add another element to the attack when people have to worry about him coming out of the back. That can change teams’ game plans and give us more spaces in areas.”
Friedrich was noticeably aggressive stepping into the midfield vs. the Red Bulls. He helped set up the game’s first goal in the 65th minute, when he found Chris Rolfe near the center circle before Rolfe sprung MacDonald free on a breakaway.
“Especially this game, I tried to force many times up top to help our offense as well,” Friedrich said. “This is what I used to do in the past, and this is what I always do when I see any gaps. If I can help our offensive players, then I will do it.”
Fire avoid depressing break
Saturday’s win not only sealed the Fire's place in the postseason, it also prevented the team from losing three league straight games for the first time this season.
“It was important after a couple of tough losses,” defender Gonzalo Segares told MLSsoccer.com. “I think it was good to bounce back that way. It showed a lot about this group and how tight we are.”
Chicago now sit in second place with two games left in the regular season. They’ll head to New England next week and host D.C. United the week after.
Heading into the two-week international break, the Fire are glad they’re not fretting about a tenuous playoff spot.
“It would have been a long time that you would be thinking about it [if the Fire would have lost Saturday],” head coach Frank Klopas said. “This is the second time from a league standpoint that we’ve dropped two in a row. To lose that game and have a big break in between where we’re thinking about the next game, obviously being in a tough situation going into New England on turf, it would not have been easy. I think it was huge. “
Pável Pardo has been targeting New England for his return from a calf injury, and the veteran midfielder went through part of training on Tuesday. Klopas had mentioned last week that Pardo may take part in Wednesday’s Reserve League game in Dallas after missing five games, but the 36-year-old didn’t see any action.
“You have to be very careful with the calf,” Klopas said. “The minute you feel good and you push it, I think it’s a process where you’ve got to continue to build strength every day.”