September 15, 2012
Kathryn L. Knapp
Mid-season acquisitions help boost Fire
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – When you bring in new players, a lot can happen… sometimes for the better, and sometimes not. Luckily for the Fire midseason acquisitions of Alex (late June), Alvaro Fernandez (late July) and Sherjill MacDonald (late July) have sparked the offense. Saturday night’s 3-1 win over Montreal, in which the trio all scored, may be just the beginning.
“When you bring players in, you expect that they will fit in,” Fire head coach Frank Klopas said. “With some guys the transition is easier than others. This is what I expected from these three. But they have a lot more to give. I expect bigger things from them.”
In eight games, MacDonald has tallied two goals and two assists. In Saturday’s game, he took three shots, two of which were on goal, and tallied the Fire’s first goal of the evening.
“I’m happy that it happened, but the win is the most important thing,” MacDonald said. “It was a good team win tonight against a good opponent.”
Scoring has been slow for the first year Fire player. He tallied his first goal August 18th, and has been in a slump since. MacDonald said he is his biggest critic.
“I put pressure on myself,” MacDonald said. “Some times you want to force things. I spoke with the coach and he told me to relax and things will come.”
Alex started pressuring early in Saturday’s match. He took five shots, sending two on target and tallying a goal. With 13 appearances for the Men in Red, the Brazilian international didn’t find the back of the net until September. Now he has two goals on the season.
“I have adapted more,” Alex said. “I feel I should always be there to help the team. The goals will come.”
At 6’1”, Fernandez is the tallest of the trio. The Uruguayan is not new to MLS. He played with the Seattle Sounders for three seasons, where he tallied 13 goals. Since joining the Fire, Fernandez has too struggled a bit. But Wednesday’s match against Toronto FC, Fernandez tallied his first Fire goal. And Saturday night, he added a goal and an assist.
“It has been comfortable for me since I got here,” Fernandez said. “It is just the circumstances of the match. Sometimes you are able to contribute. Sometimes you are not.”
The trio will help energize the Fire as they make their final push for the playoffs. With six games left on the season, Chicago sits pretty in second place in the East with 50 points on the campaign. They are one point behind Sporting Kansas City for best in the East and six points behind San Jose for the best record in the league.
Forward Patrick Nyarko said they’re not satisfied with 50 points.
“We want 60 points,” Nyarko said. “We have 10 points to go. Six games – 18 points. It’s definitely possible. If the top spot is in sight, we want to go for it.”
Klopas said while it was again a good win for the club, season is far from over.
“It’s good that we’re in a rhythm. Tonight was a big win. Now we have to keep it going,” Klopas said. “We’re not satisfied. We haven’t accomplished anything yet.”