BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Juan Luis Anangono may have only played 21 minutes in last Friday's 1-0 win over Kansas City, but the Designated Player is beginning to show glimpses of why the Fire paid a seven-figure transfer fee for the 24-year-old striker.
A fingertip save by Jimmy Nielsen was all that kept the Ecuadorian off the board in the 72nd minute last week, when he fired a volley from behind him toward the upper corner. Despite the fact that he's goalless through four games, forward Mike Magee sees something in his new teammate that he and fellow starting forward Chris Rolfe don't have.
“I thought he was great,” Magee told MLSsoccer.com. “Especially on set pieces and battling, and obviously in a game like that, we resorted to booting balls up the field, and that's not really me and Chris's strong suit, so I think getting him on the field, and his mentality, he didn't come on all bitter that he didn't start, he just came on and brought something. The one play, Nielsen made a great save on and then a couple of other times, he was getting on the end of my set pieces.”
Anangono is still working his way toward 100 percent with just 10 games left in the season. But when he does find his form, he thinks big minutes will start coming.
“It's a slow process. I think I'm well on my way to getting 100 percent, it's about getting in there and working every day. I think playing time minutes are going to come when I'm 100 percent,” Anangono said through a translator. “I'll keep working, and I think the goal is going to come sooner or later.”
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He doesn't figure to start this Sunday against Houston (3 pm ET, UniMas) or any time in the near future, with Magee and Rolfe entrenched at the position. But Anangono showed skills in limited playing time last Friday that no other Fire player possesses, and Chicago hopes those attributes help the club for years to come.
“He was good,” coach Frank Klopas told MLSsoccer.com. “He came in and I think his fitness is getting better. He's shown that he's a guy that's going to come in and help. You can just see, he has good qualities, he's getting more confidence.”