BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – After the Chicago Fire ended an eight-day, three-game stretch with a 2-0 loss to the LA Galaxy on Sunday, head coach Frank Klopas has been keeping his training short, knowing full well his team will have to deal with similar stretches down the road.
“Everything is short, sharp, and we’ve kept some guys out today after a certain part, guys who have played the most minutes in Pável [Pardo] and Patrick [Nyarko] and Chris Rolfe, Chris mostly because he’s coming back from his [ankle sprain],” Klopas said. “We have research based on how guys felt last year, and we’ve adjusted some things, but the guys are fresh, there’s no question about that.”
Klopas said Federico Puppo and Rafael Robayo have both struggled with minor injuries in the last few weeks, though he added they’ll play through them. The Fire coach also said he wouldn't juggle his lineup with games on Saturday and Wednesday.
“You’re going to play with bruises, it’s just that part of the season, you’ve got to deal with it and move on, you’ve got to have more days to recover,” Klopas said. “I think the guys are fresh. We have a fitness guy, and we evaluate every minute guys play, what we do in training sessions, and they have four days to recover. If you can’t recover in four days, then maybe you should retire.”
“We don't play in Champions League where we're playing Wednesday-Saturday for seven months,” Klopas added. “You have stretches, two, three weeks when you go like that.”
Anibaba starts for tactical reasons
Klopas juggled his normal lineup when he opted to start Jalil Anibaba over Dan Gargan at right back on Sunday.
The loss to the Galaxy was the first time Gargan didn’t play in a game this season for purely tactical reasons. He missed Chicago’s 2-0 loss to Colorado on April 1 while dealing with a foot injury.
“I think Jalil gives us something different in set pieces, in defending, gets forward, both of them can give everything they have,” Klopas said. “In every game, maybe you feel some matchups are a little better.”
Gibbs kicking a ball
Despite all the bumps and bruises, there was some welcome news on the injury front for the Fire this week – Cory Gibbs began kicking a ball at training.
The center back has been out since tearing his right meniscus on April 4, and Klopas said there is a chance the 32-year-old will be back this season.
“My fingers are crossed. You never know,” Klopas said. “His strength is looking good, his leg is doing more things, he’s running around, and he’s doing better than what everyone would have expected at this point. There would be a very good surprise to have him back, because in the beginning, we thought he was probably out for the season.”