Fire's Anibaba, Klopas suspended

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Fire's Anibaba, Klopas suspended

Neither Fire coach Frank Klopas nor defender Jalil Anibaba expected any disciplinary action from Major League Soccer immediately after Saturday nights 2-1 loss to the Seattle Sounders at Toyota Park.

Both were wrong, though. Anibaba was handed a red card by referee Michael Kennedy and Klopas was dismissed for defensive and abusive language towards the officials in Kennedys game report filed with the league. Neither knew about Kennedys report after the match, and the club and league announced the penalties on Monday.

The red card means Anibaba cant play in Friday nights match against Chivas USA in Los Angeles, and Klopas wont be on the sidelines. Its expected that Fire assistants Mike Matkovich and Leo Percovich will fill in for Klopas on Friday. Matkovich and Percovich were assistant coaches for Chivas earlier in their careers, when Preki was Chivas head man.

Anibaba and midfielder Marco Pappa were the Fires central figures in a post-game scuffle after Saturdays loss. Anibaba admitted he had a role in the post-game issues.

"I went in to make a play on the ball, and it turned into a scuffle," he said. The red card was assessed for a challenge Anibaba made in stoppage time, according to Kennedys game report.

Pappa, who scored the lone Fire goal, wasnt penalized and will throw out the first pitch at the White Sox game on Tuesday.

Most of the players on both teams were embroiled in the post-game melee.

"There were some emotions at the end, but we just have to control that," Klopas admitted in his post-game press conference. "At times the referee has got to make the right calls and keep things under control. Our guys put a lot into our games, and they wore their emotions and passions on their sleeves. I know there were some arguments...I didnt see anything else happen.

Klopas was critical of the officiating in the match, which was filled with controversial calls. He disputed the interference call on Dominic Oduro, which resulted in a Pappa goal being waved off in the second half, and also felt that Rafael Robayo was fouled from behind in the box during the tense final moments.

Anibaba admitted it was "a hard-fought match and emotions were running high."

"But there was nothing malicious on either end, he said of the post-match scuffle.

With Cory Gibbs sidelined for most of the season following recent knee surgery, Anibabas loss could be painful for the Fire (2-2-2) on Friday. Captain Logan Pause could move to the back line or rookie Austin Berry, who has yet to play in an MLS match, could get the call. Berry was the Fires first-round draft pick out of the University of Louisville.

SportsTalk Live: Should White Sox risk starting Chris Sale in season finale?

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SportsTalk Live: Should White Sox risk starting Chris Sale in season finale?

CSN's David Kaplan hosts a round table discussion with K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, Ben Finfer from ESPN Radio, and Jordan Bernfield of 670 The Score. The panel discusses the controversial end to last night's Cardinals/Reds game, questions whether Chris Sale should make his last start of the season, and share Vin Scully stories.

Listen to the SportsTalk Live Podcast below:

 

 

Bears defensive backs using off-field bonds to improve on-field ones

Bears defensive backs using off-field bonds to improve on-field ones

Every Thursday night, Bears defensive backs try to all get together at Tracy Porter’s house for dinner. But it’s not about the food.

"None of us can cook," said cornerback Bryce Callahan, laughing.

At the risk of channeling some inner Marc Trestman, it’s about the get-together itself, which always involves popping on some game film and doing extra study beyond the time at Halas Hall. And it’s also building something off the field that they believe they can take onto it.

One of the keys to excellence in any working group is the individuals connecting in ways that make the whole greater than just the sum of the parts. That’s the point ultimately, taking some personal connections onto the field and making the entire defensive backfield collectively better.

Relationships among players have never been recorded as intercepting or even deflecting an NFL pass.

"For me it starts off the field, getting to know one another, how that person is," said cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc, familiar with a similar internal chemistry from his time with the New England Patriots.

"You get that feeling for every individual, and you take that on the field. It creates a close bond, and we’ve got that bond. We try to look through each other’s eyes, communicate what you were thinking and he was thinking on this play or that, and that’s the biggest thing."

Offensive lines are generally thought of as the group most benefited by camaraderie and closeness. They typically have an O-line dinner most weeks, with checks for the meal not uncommonly reaching into four-figures.

"Those boys can EAT," LeBlanc marveled. "We stick to wings or ribs."

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

But the secondary consists of four individuals rotating coverages the way a line moves with different protections or assignments. Double-teams in the defensive backfield require the same cohesion and familiarity as ones on the other side of the football.

The Bears have started the same base four defensive backs in all three games — Porter and Jacoby Glenn at the corners, Adrian Amos and Harold Jones-Quartey at the safeties — but the Bears are working in multiple rookies, and Callahan (hamstring) has been inactive along with Kyle Fuller, projected to be the starter at right corner but now on IR. Rookie safety Deon Bush was inactive the first two weeks, then played at Dallas. Rookie corner Deiondre’ Hall was pressed into action on defense for 18 plays at Houston and 28 against Philadelphia.

With the in-game mixes-and-matches necessitated by injuries, the familiarity among secondary members is looked at as nothing short of vital. Comments, right or wrong, from a friend can be taken better/more constructively than ones from a relative stranger.

"Just more of being ready to pick each other up, be ready," Amos said. "It just shows you how quick you can go from scout team to on the field, so everybody has to be talking together.

"The closer we are on and off the field, the better we are together."

LeBlanc agrees.

"We talk to each other like friends, in a unit, trying to dissect a play right after it happens, rewind and see how we can to it better.

"You can’t be out here trying to communicate and you don’t even really know the guy next to you."