New-look midfield makes Chicago Fire more versatile for 2013 opener

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – “Dynamic” was never a word used to describe the Chicago Fire's central midfield pairing of Pável Pardo and Logan Pause in 2012.

Solid? Yes. Experienced, certainly.

But the Fire's new central midfield pairing of Jeff Larentowicz and Joel Lindpere have Chicago looking forward to a more multi-faceted offense when they take on the LA Galaxy in Sunday's season-opener (5 pm ET, UniMas).

“Last year, with Logan in the middle, he's good in possession he's good building the attack, but he's not good at getting forward and playing that killer pass,” forward Chris Rolfe told “That's what we kind of missed last year. Now, with Joel being a little more offensive, I think he could fill in that spot a little bit.

“I think Jeff is more of a box-to-box midfielder,” Rolfe added, “not just a sitting guy, so he's definitely fully capable of getting in the attack and helping us there, too.”

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While Pause played the destroyer position last year and focusing mostly on defensive duties, Larentowicz will play all over the field. And while Pardo sat back and distributed, Lindpere will push up and be heavily involved in the attack.

The partnership will certainly take time, but Larentowicz and Lindpere have steadily learned to play off of each other, complementing each other's strengths.

“I think for me it's just going to be about organizationally being behind the team and making sure I allow Joel the freedom to create and go forward,” Larentowicz told “He's a guy that can pop up on the left and pop up on the right, so for me, it's just about balancing the team.”

Rolfe said it's possible he could push higher up the field with Lindpere playing a role in the offense, but the Fire seem intent on using a similar formation to last year, when Rolfe sat behind striker Sherjill MacDonald.

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Head coach Frank Klopas said he expects Lindpere and Larentowicz to push into the opponent's offensive third and create another attacking option when the Fire open the season.

“When [MacDonald] is sometimes a little more isolated, [we have] the ability of one of the two midfielders to step in and put the back line under pressure,” Klopas said. “It's going to help [MacDonald], it's going to help Chris when you have guys who can come from deep spots, whether [they] having the ability to shoot from range or pull the defense out or get isolated more one-on-one.”

The pair should help remake an offense that relied heavily on its outside midfielders to create a bulk of the offense last year. And while Patrick Nyarko and Dilly Duka will certainly be heavily involved in the attack, Larentowicz and Lindpere suddenly make this offense multi-faceted.

“I think we're a dynamic team,” Larentowicz said. “I don't think we can be pin-pointed as a wide-attacking team or a team that builds through the middle. I think we'll have the ability to build through the middle with Chris underneath, and Joel and I, but I think we can do different things.”

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