By TYLER DAY
Despite their 2-1 defeat at Houston last week, Fire players are noticeably upbeat about the team’s recent form.
“The way we have played the last two games has been dramatically better,” said striker Chris Rolfe after training Wednesday. “I think that’s the biggest takeaway.”
Rolfe finally got on the score sheet in last week’s loss, ending the longest scoring drought of his career at ten games.
“As an attacking player to get your first goal of the season is always very helpful for confidence building,” Rolfe said.
“I can’t promise the dam is broken and all of the sudden we are going to start scoring a bunch of goals, but it gives me confidence, and it gives my teammates confidence that I can score for them.”
When asked what the key is to the team’s improvement on the attacking end, Rolfe pointed to the return of captain Logan Pause.
“One of the main things is that we have got Logan back in the midfield,” Rolfe said. “He’s a guy that makes everybody else around him better, everything easier for everybody else. Because of that we have been more organized, we have been more disciplined.”
Rolfe was quick to show concern over the team’s defense, which has allowed a league-high 12 goals in six games.
“We have a young back line still,” he said. “You look at the goals we have given up and a lot of them are preventable. It is a matter of taking care of details.”
FRIEDRICH SUFFERS SETBACK
That inexperienced back line won’t be receiving any help in the near term. Central defender Arne Friedrich, who has yet to play this season but has been in full training for two weeks, suffered an injury setback to his hamstring in training this week.
“Everything was good,” Friedrich said, “but my legs were always pretty tight and then I had a set back. I feel pain again and I just have to be patient.”
“Unfortunately I can’t promise when I’ll be back,” he added. “The only thing I can promise is that I’ll give everything for the club because I would like to help as soon as possible. This injury is a little complicated.”
Friedrich joins opening day starter Steven Kinney on the injury list. The team will have to rely on Wells Thompson or Michael Videira at right back for at least this weekend, as Jalil Anibaba will continue to occupy Friedrich’s role in the middle.
The German international did not want talk of his injury to distract the focus on Saturday’s match.
“This is life. This is soccer,” he said. “Sometimes you have setbacks and sometimes it doesn’t go the way you would like to have it. But the important point is that we win on Saturday against Columbus. It’s a very important game for us and we know what is at stake.”
Goals are likely between these rivals on Saturday, with all three games last season ending 2-1 to the home team. The Crew have managed only back-to-back draws in recent weeks, helped in part by goals from former Fire winger Dominic Oduro, but the team has not lost since week two.
SEARCH FOR TALENT CONTINUES
Fire coach Frank Klopas insists his club is looking to add players, but will not look to just fill gaps with anybody.
“We are looking for sure,” Klopas said. “Knock on wood if something else happens to one of our guys in the back we are a little bit thin now with Kinney out and with Arne out.”
He added, “I just think you need to find a guy that you feel is going to come in and if something happens can play. Not just a low-end guy just to fill a roster spot.”
The Fire play host to Columbus on Saturday at 7:30 CT, and the game will be available online for free as part of the MLS Stream of the Week.