BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — Fire technical director and interim head coach Frank Klopas is excited to have Mexican defensive midfielder Pável Pardo in the fold, telling reporters Thursday that the 35-year-old gives the struggling Fire more quality and gives Klopas more tactical options.
“He brings the right attitude, the leadership and obviously very good qualities on the field,” Klopas said. “We’re always looking to add players who can help us improve the team and Pavel’s definitely a quality player who can help us on the field.”
How Pardo’s arrival will affect Klopas’ tactics is still a mystery. The interim head coach has primarily used a 4-4-2 formation with a lone holding midfielder since taking over in late May. Klopas might keep that set-up and slot Pardo in for current defensive midfielder Logan Pause, he could play Pause an Pardo together in a five-man midfield or he could switch to a 4-3-3 with Pardo in the center.
“There’s different ways we can play,” Klopas said. “We can play 4-3-3, a 4-2-3-1, a 4-4-2 diamond in the middle to fit everyone, we have different options. It just depends on the team that we’re playing and what we want to do, but we do have some options. ... It’s going to be an interesting four or five days.”
If Pardo becomes the Fire’s lone defensive midfielder, Pause, who is Chicago’s captain, would move either to right back or the bench. Pause said on Thursday that he’d be fine staying at midfield, moving to right back or backing up Pardo.
Don’t expect Pardo to play as a lone holding midfielder next week against Philadelphia. The former Stuttgart man told reporters Thursday that it’s unlikely that he’ll be ready to start against the Union and Klopas indicated that the two-time World Cup veteran, who hasn’t played since May 1, needs time to build up his fitness before taking on that taxing of a role.
“We also have to see from his fitness level too where he is,” Klopas said. “If he’s the only guy sitting deep obviously his fitness level has to be at the max. ... He definitely needs a bit of time for his fitness level. This is his first training, but he’s an experienced guy and I think he’s going to come around pretty quick.”
Klopas also addressed why Chicago, who have been solid defensively but anemic in front of net, elected to bring another defensive-minded player as opposed to an attacking type.
“I think that with the scoring part we’ve been creating opportunities, but that final moment I think that confidence (is lacking). I think players are thinking a little bit too much,” he said. “I think even in (last Saturday’s World Football Challenge) match against Man. United, we created four or five good opportunities to score. I think we got to keep working in the final third and hopefully one will go in and maybe they will in the last 14 games.”
Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.