Doran: That's the breaks

The idea of a break from soccer to a U-8 player who is nothing but smiles and shinguard from head to toe, is preposterous.

But for adults it's necessary and should be a deliberate part of the cycle.

The Fire recently came off a "long" MLS All-Star break which, save for a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup win at Columbus, provided the players with a weekend or two of rest away from soccer. Coach Dave Sarachan said it was a "good chance to recharge the batteries."

A lighter work schedule meant a few more injuries could heal. Regimented diets and fitness activity could be relaxed for a couple of days and there were probably a few familial relationships that received much-needed attention.

I wish the break had come sooner for the "Men in Red" as the demands of the schedule have been heavy from the beginning.

The training season started in late January and included trips to Portugal, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Mississippi, Boca Raton, Fla., Trinidad Tobago and Costa Rica. Add in a few Morelia training trips and U.S. men's national team games and you've got a full schedule to worry about - and that doesn't include the MLS dates!

Chicago is typically strong after the All-Star break with a 7-3 MLS regular season mark in 1998, 7-1-1 in 2000, 5-2-2 in 2001 and 6-2-4 last year. The Fire went 8-7 after the July 17, 1999, All-Star game and posted their only sub-.500 performance in 2002 with a 3-5 mark.

The Fire is 1-1 with eight games to go in the post-All Star break span of regular season games. While the injury list and opponents' testiness at Soldier Field remind some of the 2002 season, I'm confident there's time and room for some great Chicago performances as we eye the MLS playoffs.

File this under "The Break He Didn't Need:" Fire forward Ante Razov will rest, rehab and return (but not until after the season) following foot surgery last week. Team physician Dr. Preston Wolin told me "He needed the surgery," and should do well with rehab.

File this under "The Break He Wasn't Expecting:" Coach Sigi Schmid was sent packing by the L.A. Galaxy - despite his team sitting number one in the league. It gives Sigi time to update his resume for 2005 MLS expansion clubs Chivas and/or Utah.

Chris Doran is a contributor to He is also the voice of the Chicago Fire, calling their games for English radio.

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