Fire Training Notes with R.D.III: 9.25.12
On The Fire‘s roving reporter Roberto Diaz has the inside dope from Tuesday’s training session at Toyota Park as the Men in Red prepared for the first place battle in Kansas City…
Tuesday morning’s practice started with passing, dribbling, and small space pressure drills. The boys scrimmaged seven v. seven style, the focus of which was less about strategy and tactics and more about setting up to create good scoring chances. An additional drill saw the coaching staff set up a player outside the penalty area before every cross and work on collecting a rebound to take a shot on goal.
The final 45 minutes of practice were dedicated to combination play. Drills had attacking players link up with center midfielders and emphasized getting the ball out wide and finishing one-time crosses. Come Friday, the Fire will look to be more dynamic in attack and try to threaten in the air with Sherjill MacDonald, Dominic Oduro, and now Guille Franco looking for headers in the box.
Goalkeepers practiced handling corners and crosses from the wings. Sporting KC do well on set pieces and open-field crosses, and had eight and thirty-six of them, respectively, when Chicago last visited KC on June 29th. Graham Zusi, Roger Espinoza, and Paolo Nagamura are all terrific at placing crosses in danger areas, while C.J. Sapong and Kei Kamara threaten in the air. Sean Johnson will have to again be at his best on Friday if Chicago expects to take another three points home from Livestrong Sporting Park and sweep the season series.
Pavel Pardo and Chris Rolfe did not practice today. Daniel Paladini told On The Fire that the two veterans simply needed a day to rest. Their ailments are minor. However, General Pardo is day to day.
Dan Gargan did not train with the team. The Kraken mostly ran on the margins and did very light ball work. Based on today’s observation, it’s doubtful he’ll be in the starting eighteen come Friday.
Patrick Nyarko participated in drills but not in the scrimmage. #14 told On The Fire that he sustained light knocks on both knees Saturday, but he’ll definitely be good to go on Friday.
On The Fire spoke with five players (Paladini, Franco, Thompson, Nyarko, and Anibaba) after training today. Interestingly, none of them tried to play down the magnitude of Friday’s match. Not a one resorted to the old cliché “It’s just another game.” Each acknowledged that Friday is indeed a seminal moment for this team.
Watching the Fire practice – with each touch of the ball, each run, each time Klopas or Percovich coached them up – it felt urgent, important, and meaningful. The squad looks tighter and more ambitious than it has in years. Good feelings and faith abound…
– Roberto Diaz, a.k.a. R.D.III, is a contributing reporter for On The Fire. Tweet him @nu12no