BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Normally, Chicago Fire coach Frank Klopas is forced to take his time with his midseason additions.
Last season, he had to make sure Pável Pardo and Sebastián Grazzini were both game fit and ready to play against MLS competition. This season, Arne Friedrich went through that same adjustment and Dutch forward Sherjill MacDonald, added to the team last week, is still working his way into form.
He won’t have to worry about that process with newest addition Álvaro Fernández, who the Fire acquired in a trade after the Uruguayan spent two years with the Seattle Sounders.
“It’s not an easy league to adapt to,” Fernández – himself a midseason acquisition for Seattle in 2010 –told MLSsoccer.com through a translator on Wednesday, after his second day of practice. “It took me longer than I thought it would [two years ago]. Now that I’ve adapted to the league, I feel like I can play well.”
Fire brass looked at different players from teams in foreign leagues, including Dutch midfielder Gianluca Nijholt, who was on trial with the team last week, when the transfer window closed.
But for a team that currently sits in the last playoff spot, Fernández’s experience is an advantage over a player who isn’t used to Major League soccer.
“It’s a weird, different sort of league,” Nyarko told MLSsoccer.com. “You have to be in it to sort of know how it goes. … Guys coming from overseas have to adapt to it. Sometimes you’ve got to make mistakes to learn. But a guy who’s been there, who has made those mistakes, who’s corrected those mistakes, he’s ready to go.”
The biggest challenge for Klopas will be figuring out how to fit the two-year MLS veteran into the starting lineup. With five midfielders bolstered at their position, he’ll have to remove an everyday starter.
The Fire coach talked about possibly moving Marco Pappa inside last Friday, which could leave Chris Rolfe or Nyarko as the odd man out.
“He’s a guy that can play either side out wide,” Klopas said of the Uruguayan. “I think he can play in the middle. He’s a good player and it gives us depth. I have an idea [on the lineup], but you still have to see in the next couple of days how it goes. You never know.”