Pappa's overseas signing shouldn't affect his play with Fire
It's never good when your leading scorer announces he's leaving at the end of the season, then leaves for international duty.
It's never good when your captain has to miss 4-6 weeks with two broken ribs and pneumothorax.
It's also never good to panic, and there's no hint of it at Toyota Park.
The Fire has a lot of momentum going after 2 straight victories, and it's strong enough to overcome a little adversity. Change happens.
"We're in a great moment," veteran midfielder Pavel Pardo said after training Wednesday, "but we have to keep going if we want to be in the playoffs."
Marco Pappa's announcement that he has signed a pre-contract with Dutch side SC Heerenveen that will start in January has been expected for a while (the Fire retains his MLS rights should he return someday).
It's just part of the game. His teammates will wish him well and remind him he still has responsibilities here. Pappa will be fine. There are too many leaders on this team to let him slack off.
"We need to push to make the playoffs," coach Frank Klopas said. "Marco wants to help us do that. He's committed 100 percent."
Pappa joined the Guatemalan national team for a match Wednesday in Washington, D.C., and his availability for Saturday's Fire match depends on how much he plays Wednesday. It probably won't be his last international duty during what remains of the MLS season.
The bigger cause for concern is Logan Pause's injury Sunday at Philadelphia, which deprives the club of its leader and a defensive stopper in the middle of the field. But the Fire has plenty of options for replacing Pause.
"This is an important player for us," said Pardo, who will wear the captain's armband in Pause's absence. "This is our captain. It's sad he's not out on the field. ... We have a great team. We have other players on the bench. Sometimes they don't play as much, but now in these moments is when we need the whole team."
"Things happen in the season, certain setbacks, injuries and stuff, and we need to deal with it," Klopas added. "We talked about always from the beginning that everyone's got to be ready. It's never easy when things like this happen, but I know that guys are ready and whoever we put in is going to be ready to contribute and help the team."
Daniel Paladini or Michael Videira can fill the defensive responsibilities if they get the call. Or Klopas could move right midfielder Alvaro Fernandez inside and bring back Patrick Nyarko from the bench, the more likely scenario. Nyarko trained with the first team Wednesday, while the others played in the reserve match just outside the stadium, a 3-1 Fire victory against Colorado.
Alex, another possibility to fill Pause's role, left the reserve match early with an apparent left ankle injury.
"We need to do some things (Thursday) obviously, see how things look from that standpoint," said Klopas, not willing to name Pause's replacement. "Watch a lot of video. We've been watching New England and see what makes the most sense and who plays there. But we do have for sure some options. It just depends how we feel is the best decision to go."
The depth the Fire has been bragging about is about to come in handy.
Follow Orrin on Twitter @orrinsoccer
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