Thursday, March 17, 2011

Fire seek offensive awakening

Fire forward Gaston Puerari -- ISI Photos
Last year's Chicago Fire squad was a middle-of-the-pack MLS team on the offensive end, scoring 37 goals in 30 games. But there were many dry spells along the way, as the offense was shut out seven times during the final two months and 10 times overall in 2010.

There were moments of strong possession, but the finishing was lacking, as was the cohesiveness from line to line. Since last October, many of last year's Fire players have moved on.

Arlington Heights native and U.S. Soccer legend Brian McBride retired. McBride's former Fulham teammate Collins John, who albeit had a disappointing three-goal showing, was released and latched on to Gabala FC. And in the midfield, the Fire lost some production now that Freddie Ljungberg (Celtic), Peter Lowry (Portland Timbers) and frequently injured John Thorrington (Vancouver Whitecaps) have departed.

This season the Fire signed a pair of Uruguayan forwards in Gaston Puerari and Diego Chaves, who have had only several weeks to get acclimated to the new club. Puerari saw more preseason action than Chaves, who had one of his matches shortened by a first-half red card.

"Diego is a very good player," Fire midfielder Baggio Husidic said. "Even though he might not look big, he's big on the ball. He's quick. He's not a typical No. 9. I'd say he's more of a 10, where he drops and gets the ball, plays it through the middle, attacks, and he's good one-on-one and good at passing. Gaston is more of a speedy player. He's really cheeky on the ball. They both complement each other. They kind of drop in and play like midfielders almost."


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