The Chicago Fire lost an important game Saturday at New England, but coach Frank Klopas isn't blaming the loss on the absence of veterans Arne Friedrich and Pavel Pardo.
"It has nothing to do with that, it's regardless of that," Klopas said of the 1-0 defeat. "It was (the defenders) dropped off (on the New England goal) and it was a little bit difficult for us to move the ball with the turf and the extra touches and stuff. We really didn't create much in the final third. Really they took one shot and they scored. Other than that, I think our ball movement had to be better."
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The artificial surface was a factor in how the Fire played, Klopas said, as was the small field and the early deficit.
"Things were tighter, they dropped off the ball, I felt, then when teams get behind in their own half it affects your ability to move the ball quick and so you can create opportunities where you can have numerical superiority," he said.
Fire defender Arne Friedrich was a late scratch against New England because he didn't think his balky back would hold up on the Gillette Stadium artificial surface.
"I practiced one time on this turf," the 33-year-old said of the Toyota Park synthetic practice field, "and then again in New England and I felt it was not good for my body. And I discussed with Frank as well because the coming days are very important and I don't want to get any risk for injury and hurt my back again. I feel great on grass, but turf is not mine anymore, I have to say."
With Friedrich on the bench and with Cory Gibbs still working his way back from knee surgery, the Fire presented a young pairing at center back in second-year man Jalil Anibaba and MLS Rookie of the Year candidate Austin Berry. They were flanked by veterans Gonzalo Segares and Dan Gargan in the 1-0 loss.
Despite the loss, Klopas was glad to come away from the game with no injuries as the club prepares for the playoffs.
Veteran midfielder Pavel Pardo trained with his teammates Tuesday as he works his way back from persistent leg injuries. He might see limited time Saturday after a six-week absence.
"We'll see," Klopas said. "Hopefully he'll be available for the 18."
Because of the extended absence has affected his fitness level and because the Fire wants to avoid another setback, the 36-year-old Pardo is not likely to play a lot Saturday if he plays at all.
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