Fire complete Florida phase of training

Fire complete Florida phase of training
January 31, 2013, 6:15 pm
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Len Ziehm

The first phase of the Fire’s preseason training wasn’t perfect. Four key players weren’t at the 10-day session in Ave Maria, FL., and the club was a 2-1 loser to the Columbus Crew in its lone match against a Major League Soccer opponent.
 
Plenty of good things happened, though. The most notable was goalkeeper Sean Johnson’s play with the U.S. national team. He wasn’t with the Fire in Ave Maria, instead spending three weeks on national team duty. That stint culminated with his first start for the U.S. in a 0-0 draw with Canada in Houston.
 
Johnson now has three caps for the U.S. He went all 90 minutes in the draw with Canada and could be at least a backup as the U.S. enters the next stage of World Cup qualifying. The first match in that competition is Feb. 6 at Honduras.
 
While Johnson was showing his stuff on the international stage the Fire was making its first personnel move since training camp started, signing midfielder Brendan King.
 
King is no stranger to the Fire. He grew up in Naperville, played collegiately at Notre Dame and was in the Fire’s Premier Development League program. Now 22, King opted to play abroad after getting six goals and 14 assists in 81 matches for the Irish.
 
In 2012 he appeared in seven matches for Alta IF, a Division I team in Norway, and made one appearance for the Bray Wanders AFC of Ireland’s Premier Division.
 
As far as the session in Florida was concerned the most notable was the continuing comeback effort of defender Steven Kinney. After a promising start to his MLS career, Kinney missed nearly two seasons after a series of injuries, the most significant of which was a ruptured Achilles tendon that required surgery. He shook off his health problems to become the Fire’s Humanitarian of the Year in 2011.
 
The Fire also witnessed some offensive spark from Yazid Atouba, a striker from Gambia acquired in the MLS SuperDraft. He scored the lone goal in the match with Columbus, which concluded the Florida phase of training.
 
The Fire is off to California on Saturday and will train in Ventura, Calif., until Feb. 10 before the most competitive part of the preseason – the Carolina Challenge Cup in Charleston, S.C. It’ll feature three matches before the Fire returns to Chicago for the final days of training leading into the March 3 MLS opener against the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Galaxy on the road.

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