With Luka Stojanović and Boris Sekulić beginning training with the Chicago Fire this week, and Ignacio Aliseda and Gastón Giménez joining late last week, head coach Raphael Wicky now has a lot of options when he’s crafting his starting lineups.
Wicky’s assistant, Fire legend Frank Klopas, said it’s a good problem to have.
“With the quality that we have now, many different options,” Klopas said. “It’s a little bit, for the coach, with so many quality players, you think ‘Is it difficult? Is it easy?’ But, I’d rather have a lot of quality than no quality at all.”
Klopas may have moved on from his role as the club’s TV color commentator, but when I asked him about Sekulić and Stojanović, he was still able to deliver TV-quality scouting reports for both, right there on the spot.
“With Boris, tremendous athlete,” Klopas said. “His ability to play different positions—he can play as a center back, as a right back, as a wing back in a 3-5-2. Reads the game extremely well. Physical defender, good on the tackle, but good with the ball also.
“Luka’s got a lot of quality in the final third. He’s a guy that can score goals. He’s a guy that can make a difference in the final third. He, very often, can play as a second striker that joins in the play with his late runs. He has a tremendous shot from the outside. Can link up play very well. He can see the final pass, can create for himself.”
It’s fair to say Klopas is excited about both guys, and he thinks fans should be, too.
“Obviously different players, but both players that can make a huge impact for our club,” he said.
Other Fire news and notes:
- CJ Sapong’s chest injury continues to improve. He played as a neutral today during small-sided games in training. Klopas seemed hopeful he could return soon, but Sapong is still listed as “out” on the official injury report. We’ll see if that changes.
- Gastón Giménez seems to be settling in to his new city. When a reporter asked him what he thinks of Chicago so far, he smiled and said, “Me encanta, me encanta”—I love it. Gimenez said he enjoyed his 30 minute debut against the New England Revolution, and he’s ready to bring more to the club: “I play with order, with a little bit of vision, I like order,” he said via a translator. “I like organizing things. I try to help with tactical things as well, so we can get out there and be organized.”
- Djordje Mihailović is already training with the US U-23 squad that’s looking to qualify for the 2020 Olympics.
- Backup goalkeeper Connor Sparrow was sporting a walking boot, although it was unclear what exactly was wrong with him. Nick Slonina was running off to the side by himself as he works to improve his hip muscle strain.
- Alvaro Medrán has been one of the Fire’s best players this season, but he said he’s not even match fit yet. Prior to the season opener in Seattle, his last competitive match was in La Liga last May—around 10 months ago. “I just need to get to game fitness, keep playing, keep going,” he said via a translator. “As soon as I get that rhythm, I’m sure you’re gonna see a better Alvaro.”
- The team is off Thursday. They’ll train Friday in Bridgeview, before flying to Orlando for Saturday’s match.