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updated: 7/31/2012 11:41 PM

Fernandez, McDonald working their way into Fire picture

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  • New Chicago Fire striker Sherjill Macdonald is still working himself into game shape.

      New Chicago Fire striker Sherjill Macdonald is still working himself into game shape.
    Photo courtesy of Chicago Fire/2008 Getty Images

 
 

Alvaro Fernandez started about the business of becoming part of the Chicago Fire on Tuesday morning.

Fernandez, an Uruguayan midfielder traded to Chicago last week from Seattle, trained with his new teammates for the first time. The Fire's other newcomer, striker Sherjill MacDonald, started training at Bridgeview last week.

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"It went well, trying to fit in and know new teammates and hopefully just trying to improve every day," Fernandez said through a team translator.

Coach Frank Klopas said Fernandez, known as El Flaco, will be available to play Saturday night when the Fire hosts Toronto FC at Toyota Park (7:30 p.m., NBC Nonstop, Channel 5.2).

Fernandez agreed.

"I think that's up to the coaches," he said. "Physically, I'm fine. I've been training, I've been training all the way up 'til Friday. Again, it's just up to the coaches and for me to learn the system and fit in within the team."

MacDonald entered last week's 1-1 draw at San Jose in the 64th minute and hopes to increase his fitness gradually from there. He estimated he is at 70 percent, not good enough to go a full 90 minutes yet.

"With Sherjill, every day is better," Klopas said, adding that he doesn't expect a difficult transition for Fernandez. "With Flaco, he's fit. He's a guy who just came from the league. He's been playing. Yeah, he looks very good."

No slouches:

Toronto FC (5-12-4, 19 points) might be found at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, but it has improved steadily since a midseason coaching change.

"Those games are dangerous, because we have to make sure we are focused and ready to play in the game," coach Frank Klopas said. "It's a very different team. They're organized different; the way they play is different than in the beginning of the season. (Coach Paul Mariner) knows the league really well. They'll be up for the game."

A bad memory:

Last Saturday's 1-1 draw at San Jose still eats at Klopas for the way the Earthquakes tied the game.

Given an unusually high five minutes of extra time, a 93rd-minute San Jose red card extended the game into the 98th minute, when Steven Lenhart tied it just before the final whistle.

"The way the game played out, sometimes that's soccer," Klopas said, regretting the Fire's missed chances to add a second goal before San Jose found the tying score.

"The only disappointing thing for me is this: you get a red card, the guy wasn't even going to call it, which is terrible, and something's thrown on the field (a water bottle by San Jose coach Frank Yallop) and they delay the game and we're getting punished for it by extra time. That I don't understand."

Congratulations:

Former Fire defender Pari Pantazopoulos signed last week with the Puerto Rican Islanders of the NASL. Pantazopoulos, a Mount Prospect resident who won the Fire's open tryout in 2011 and then earned a roster spot for the entire season, was released by the MLS club in the spring.

More congratulations:

The Chicago Red Stars took second in the WPSL Elite on Saturday, losing to the Western New York Flash at Rochester, N.Y., on penalty kicks after giving up a late, tying goal.

The Red Stars were going for a double after winning the U.S. Amateur Soccer Association's Women's National Cup the previous weekend.

•Follow Orrin on Twitter @orrinsoccer

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