Fire's additions coming together for playoff run

Fire's additions coming together for playoff run
August 15, 2013, 2:00 pm
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Len Ziehm

Mike Magee and Bakary Soumare have worked out just fine. Now let’s see what Juan Luis Anangano and Arevalo Rios can for the Fire’s behalf. All four are expected to be available for Saturday’s road match against the New England Revolution.

Soumare has been a workhorse central defender since coming to the Fire in a May 23 trade with the Philadelphia Union. Magee has ben sensational, scoring 11 goals across all competitions since the Fire got him in a trade with the Los Angeles Galaxy on May 25.

Anangano, an Ecuadoran striker, came off the bench in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match and started in Saturday’s 2-1 home win over the Montreal Impact. Rios, a Uruguayan midfielder, has only practiced with his teammates in Bridgeview.

On Saturday, however, all four midseason acquisitions could be on the field together. Magee appears recovered from a calf strain that kept him out of the Montreal match and roster space has been cleared to make way for Rios’ debut. He’s expected to have his International Transfer Certificate and visa in time to play against the Revs.

The Fire, as expected, parted ways with Dutch forward Sherjill MacDonald to get Rios on the roster. MacDonald had four goals and five assists in 27 matches since coming to the Fire midway through last season, but he was a bust in 2013. His lone goal came in the international friendly against Mexico’s Club America.

MacDonald last played in a Major League Soccer match on July 7 and hasn’t even been on the 18-man game roster recently. The Fire tried to loan him to European clubs but couldn’t find a taker. On Wednesday the club announced that the Fire and MacDonald "mutually agreed to part ways."

Rios is needed right away. He’s on loan from the Italian Serie A side Palermo through the remainder of the season, which means 12 regular season matches plus the MLS playoffs if the Fire qualifies – and right now that’s a big if. And, even though Rios is arriving late in the season, he could be gone again soon.

As a veteran member of Uruguay’s national team, he could be called up for World Cup qualifiers before the MLS season is over. If he’s called up he’ll miss road matches at Seattle on Sept. 7 and Toronto FC on Sept. 11 and a home match against FC Dallas on Oct. 12.

Obviously the Fire needs to make use of Rios’ skills immediately, and the New England match is a good place to start. Both clubs are on the outside looking in as far as the playoffs go. Five Eastern Conference clubs make the playoffs. At the moment the Fire (9-9-4, 31 points) is in sixth place and the Revs (8-9-6, 30 points) are in seventh. The Houston Dynamo (9-7-6, 33 points) holds fifth place and visits Seattle on Saturday.

The Fire will probably be without midfielder Patrick Nyarko again at New England. He’s still dealing with concussion-like symptoms caused by a collision in the Aug. 7 Open Cup loss to D.C. United. Dilly Duka, another outside midfielder, left the Philadelphia match early with an ankle injury, but he’s expected to be available on Saturday.

Rios, though, could be the last remaining piece of the puzzle to put the Fire in position for a postseason run. Klopas has called him "world-class" and "an unbelievable quality player."

The Fire needs that type of player, but there is a question of where he’ll fit in. Rios has been a holding midfielder, similar to Logan Pause and Jeff Larentowicz. The Fire is in need of a scoring midfielder, and Rios may have to fill that role.

"I don’t know what’s going to happen, but we definitely have the quality right now and the depth to make a strong push," said Klopas. "The group is committed, and they are going to leave everything on that field. That’s what it’s all about."