Patrick McLain had been waiting for the opportunity he was recently handed for a long time. After joining MLS with Chivas USA, McLain found his minutes there limited and ended up bumming around in lower-division soccer for a few years. He briefly came back to MLS when he signed with the Fire in 2016 but only made one appearance (plus another while on loan at St. Louis FC, the Fire’s USL affiliate at the time). He was then picked up by Orlando City in the 2016 re-entry draft, then flipped to Minnesota United; he didn’t play for either team.
McLain returned to Chicago this past offseason and seemed to accept that he would be consigned to a backup role. So when Veljko Paunovic benched Richard Sanchez and offered McLain the opportunity to start in goal, he knew this was his big chance.
And he made the most of it, making some clutch saves and putting in overall solid performances in recent weeks. A few more games like that and McLain might have actually nailed down a starting spot.
Those hopes may have been iced after Saturday night’s win over San Jose. McLain was forced to exit the game in the first half following a non-contact injury, which was later revealed to be a problem with his hamstring.
Per Dan Santaromita at ProSoccerUSA.com, Paunovic said McLain could be out for a while.
“It’s bad. From my experience that injury could take six-to-eight weeks to recover. If it was mild, I doubt that he would go out. If it was a minor tear maybe sooner, but we’ll see.”
McLain now joins a lengthy list of injured Fire players, a DL that has loomed large over a Chicago side struggling to get points this season. For the 29-year-old from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, this injury couldn’t have come at a worse time.
It’s possible we’ll know more about the extent of the injury later today, in which case we’ll update this post with the latest information.
UPDATE: Official word coming out of the club is that McLain is set to be on the DL for 4-5 weeks. That’s not as bad as Pauno’s initial estimate but still not great.