BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Brian Bliss’ decision to hand a rare start to rookie left back Patrick Doody in each of his first two games may have surprised some observers, but the Chicago Fire’s interim head coach had no hesitation in thrusting the 23-year-old into action.
The former Indiana University player and Naperville, Ill., native has had to show patience in his debut year in MLS, spending much of the season on loan at the Fire’s USL affiliate Saint Louis FC, where he featured in 22 of their 31 regular season games. However, former head coach Frank Yallop used him three times in nine days back in July, and Bliss has shown confidence in Doody once again with the end of the season in sight.
“[Doody’s] done fine; we’ve tracked him in Saint Louis with some of the stuff that he’s done there, we’ve got some good reports from their coaches and it’s a good story,” Bliss told reporters via teleconference this week. “He went and got some games there and worked on his game, improved, and I didn’t have any hesitations about dropping him in over there.”
Doody, who came through the Fire Academy and PDL teams, was preferred in the left-back role over regular starter Joevin Jones, who has been one of the Fire’s better players in what has been a disappointing, underachieving season. Jones also excelled at the CONCACAF Gold Cup with Trinidad & Tobago during the summer, but since his return has struggled to recapture his early season form.
“After Joevin’s come back from the Gold Cup, it’s no secret he hasn’t been in his top form like he was prior, so I figured I’d try to give him a break,” Bliss said. “Looking at where Joevin’s been the last four or five weeks, I felt that we needed a little more concentration on the defensive side of things rather than the attacking side, and I think Doody gave us that in spades.
“He battled and battled, he shut some guys down and stopped crosses from coming in, and he was holding that down pretty well. I commend him for that because it’s not easy to be thrown into that. He did well.”
“All of them have helped out a bunch,” Doody told MLSsoccer.com this week. “… Even with Joevin, just trying to mirror anything off of his game, you’re going to find success because he’s obviously a very good player.”
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Doody also said his time in St. Louis under the tutelage of Dale Schilly helped in his transition from the collegiate game to MLS.
“Saint Louis was extremely helpful because I got to play as an outside back, playing against guys who’ve either been in the league already or have the talent to do so right now,” Doody said. “Getting that game repetition was really important.”
While Bliss expects Jones to return in the left-back position at some point in the final three games of the season, starting at home Saturday against the New England Revolution (5:30 pm ET; MLS LIVE), Doody’s solid, unflappable performances have helped solidify his standing on the roster.