BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Of the 18 players who dressed for Dan Gargan’s last game for Toronto FC – a 2-0 loss to the Houston Dynamo on July 9, 2011 – only seven remain on the Reds’ roster.
And that doesn’t surprise the Chicago Fire defender one bit.
“That’s really kind of been a theme in Toronto FC’s history,” Gargan told MLSsoccer.com. “If you look at the number of guys who have put on a TFC jersey, it’s pretty astounding. ... Any time that there’s uncertainty about direction, those aren’t circumstances that you want to play under.”
Fortunately for Gargan and the Fire, Chicago enter their match against TFC on Saturday at BMO Field (3:30 pm ET, NBC Sports Network) with a much more stable defensive unit.
NBC Sports Preview: TOR- CHI
The only change along the Fire’s backline came when Cory Gibbs tore his meniscus two weeks ago, an injury that will put the center back out for up to six months.
In Gibbs’ absence, Chicago has called upon the services of former German national team defender Arne Friedrich, and the center back impressed during his first outing in a rain-shortened game against the Dynamo on Sunday.
“You want to play under a settled unit, a settled group,” Gargan said. “You don’t always get those opportunities. Here in Chicago, we’re starting to get a settled group.”
The Fire defense did make one costly error in Friedrich’s first game, when Houston forward Will Bruin made a cutting run through the Fire defense, received a pass from Brian Ching and buried his breakaway chance past goalkeeper Sean Johnson, who was making his first start of the season.
“It was just a mental lapse,” left back Gonzalo Segares told MLSsoccer.com. “We needed to be tighter with the two forwards. We gave them a little bit of room. If we would have been tight since the beginning, that would have not happened.”
Gargan thinks that familiarity with a new cog in the lineup will take some time.
“There’s definitely a growth period and a bit of a learning period,” Gargan said. “Playing against Houston, we definitely picked up some things across that back line. We saw some things on video that we can do better. It’s a process. Each time we step on the field together, it’s definitely going to make you better.”
Unlike the Dynamo, however, TFC have struggled mightily out of the gates this season. The Reds are still looking for their first win in MLS this season heading into their sixth match.
“It makes it a tougher game, I think,” Segares said. “They’re going to be scrambling for points. It’s tough when you have a team in that situation.”