BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – A sense of calmness currently permeates the Chicago Fire locker room.
That feeling of tranquility is the reason the Fire traded their top pick in the draft for Jeff Larentowicz. It's what caused them to hang on to Logan Pause, sign Arne Friedrich, bring back Chris Rolfe last year and acquire Joel Lindpere in the offseason.
If Frank Klopas had his full roster at his disposal, he'd likely trot out eight players with at least six years each of professional experience in his starting 11. That's why the Fire aren't overly worried about an 0-2-0 start heading into Saturday's game at Sporting Kansas City (3 pm ET, NBCSN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
“The group is obviously frustrated with the results ... but incredibly optimistic,” captain Logan Pause told MLSsoccer.com. “We have a lot of guys who have been around the league, a good mix of veterans and young guys, but the veterans are helping keep things in perspective that we need to continue to plug away.”
The Fire have plenty of on-field problems, no doubt.
Klopas doesn't have his first-choice starting lineup at his disposal, with Pause and Friedrich out with injury. The Fire haven't scored a goal yet, and Designated Player Sherjill MacDonald hasn't done much in his 68 minutes of work over the first two games. Either Wells Thompson or Michael Videira, both fourth-choice options at right back, will man the spot on Saturday.
Above all, the Fire just haven't quite meshed with three new midfielders in the starting lineup.
“When you have three or four new guys in, it's going to take a little bit of time, but that's not the excuse,” Klopas said. “I think at times, guys are trying a little too hard, you've got to play a little more simple and let the game come to you. I think that our rhythm hasn't been great and we just have to play more simple.”
But this group has been through the ups and downs of an MLS season before. Every first choice starter has been to the playoffs, most of them multiple times. The Fire have a World Cup veteran, four former MLS team MVPs, a US national team goalkeeper, and last year's rookie of the year.
A result against Sporting on Saturday is surely important. But this team is confident that given some time, things will come together.
“You know at some point in an MLS season that you'll go through these patches,” Patrick Nyarko said after the Fire's 1-0 loss to New England last week. “I'm glad it came early so we can fix our mistakes early rather than later. You hit that patch, but we have to make sure we keep working.”