Friedrich expected to return Saturday

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Friedrich expected to return Saturday

The Fire hasnt made a formal announcement yet, but all indications are that veteran German defender Arne Friedrich will be back in the starting 11 for Saturdays home match against the Columbus Crew.

Friedrich hobbled off 29 minutes into a May 12 home match against Sporting Kansas City with a right hamstring strain and both club and player have exercised caution in determining his return to action.

Though the Fire managed a 2-1 win against SKC while Friedrich was in the lockerroom for initial treatment, the club missed him immediately after that. He missed five Major League Soccer matches, and the Fire lost three of them. A quick exit from the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup also came while Friedrich was sidelined and second-year man Jalil Anibaba and rookie Austin Berry manned the central defender spots.

Friedrich rejoined the team for training while MLS was on a two-week break for international matches and considered playing when the league season resumed on Sunday against the New York Red Bulls. After conferring with coach Frank Klopas, the team opted to keep Friedrich off the game roster and allow him another week of training and rehabilitation to regain his fitness.

"The most important thing is that my hamstring is getting better," Friedrich said. "I have to do whats best for my body and my conditioning. I cant do my best for the team if Im not ready."

Now, however, Friedrichs return seems imminent as the Fire tries to gain revenge for one of the defeats suffered when he was out. Columbus beat the Fire 2-1 on May 26, spoiling a road trip for about 600 Fire fans. The club footed the bill for that trip, and owner Andrew Hauptman went a step further after the return home. He presented those loyal fans with a gift a new megabandera that was unfurled at Toyota Park during the rousing 3-1 win over the Red Bulls.

"We need to build on that and get ready for Columbus, another tough match," said Klopas.

The Fire (6-5-3) and the Crew (5-4-4) are in a battle for the fourth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, though plenty of time in their 34-game seasons will remain after Saturdays matchup.

In addition to Friedrichs return, the Crew has something else to worry about. The Fire didnt have Chris Rolfe in the previous meeting. He was nursing a sprained left ankle, but the New York game suggested hes capable of doing some damage against the only MLS club from his home state of Ohio.

Rolfe, who went to college at Dayton, scored the Fires final goal against New York and set up another score one which was called off by a bad referees call. Prior to his three-year stint playing in Denmark Rolfe had six goals and three assists in 15 matches for the Fire against the Crew. Thats almost as effective as hes been against the Red Bulls over the years (seven goals, two assists in 14 matches).

"First of all, Chris is a finisher," said fellow forward Patrick Nyarko, who set up Rolfes goal after scoring the first one himself. "Hes done that throughout his career. Hes quicker than a lot of people think. Hes got great feet and works hard. Hes also a two-way player. Were excited to have him back, and were looking forward to having him help us into the playoffs."

The Fire won both meetings with the Crew in 2011 and owns an 11-5-7 edge in home games against Columbus.

Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

Dwyane Wade gets a little help but saves the day defensively vs. Kings

It was a gift and the Bulls weren't going to look it in the mouth as Dwyane Wade was poised to finish off another one of his sterling defensive plays with a breakaway dunk with the game tied and Arron Afflalo and DeMarcus Cousins trailing.

Lightly touched by the small of his back by Cousins, Wade miscalculated his liftoff and missed the dunk but was bailed out by the refs for a foul with 14 seconds left.

Then, he bailed the Bulls out.

Wade had his fifth fourth-quarter defensive play, stripping Cousins on a steal on the ensuing possession with the Sacramento Kings having a chance to win, leading to a Michael Carter-Williams dunk and finishing a 102-99 win Saturday night at the United Center.

It was a clock-turning performance for Wade on both ends of the floor, even if his missed dunk is a reminder that he is 35 years old. But putting up 30 with six rebounds and four assists on the second night of a back-to-back is proof positive he took Friday's loss to Atlanta personally and used his play to back up those feelings.

He scored 13 in the fourth, along with the last of his four blocked shots and all three of his steals took place in the final 12.

Cousins dominated the game with 42 and 14 rebounds in 35 minutes, the only Kings player in double figures all night.

Back-to-back triples from Cousins gave him 40 and tied the game at 97, as a third one rimmed out with a little under two minutes left.

Cousins dominated the start of the third quarter, hitting midrange jumpers over Robin Lopez and taunting the Bulls bench after hitting a jumper to put the Kings ahead, 70-63 midway through the third.

It looked like the worst was over when the Bulls made a short run to end the third, surviving the onslaught from Cousins — and surviving their own experimenting as the Paul Zipser played heavy minutes and even finished out the game on the floor.

Zipser scored 13 and Nikola Mirotic scored 11 off the bench, with Jimmy Butler scoring 23 with seven assists and five rebounds in 39 minutes.

Phillips DT Chris Elmore commits to Syracuse

Phillips DT Chris Elmore commits to Syracuse

Phillips senior three-star ranked defensive tackle Chris Elmore (6-foot-0, 270 pounds) has given Syracuse his verbal commitment while on his official visit.

Elmore, who first announced his decision via his Twitter account, was asked why he decided to commit to the Orangemen.

"(Syracuse) is the place for me," according to Elmore via text. "I just feel it and I didn't want to pass up a chance to play for Syracuse and in the ACC."

Elmore, who originally gave then Western Michigan head coach PJ Fleck his verbal commitment back last summer reopened his recruiting process once Fleck left WMU to take the head coaching job at Minnesota.

Elmore is now the 20th known verbal commitment to Syracuse and the first from Chicagoland in the Class of 2017.