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updated: 3/27/2013 6:54 PM

Fire stoked about Friedrich's pain-free return

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  • Chicago Fire defender Arne Friedrich, left, and Vancouver Whitecaps FC forward Darren Mattocks go for the ball during the first half an MLS soccer game July 14, 2012, at Toyota Park in Bridgeview.

      Chicago Fire defender Arne Friedrich, left, and Vancouver Whitecaps FC forward Darren Mattocks go for the ball during the first half an MLS soccer game July 14, 2012, at Toyota Park in Bridgeview.
    Photo courtesy of Chicago Fire

 
 

Arne Friedrich is back from Germany and pain-free.

For the Chicago Fire that's very good news.

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But Friedrich, who had his first training session with the club Wednesday after a two-week trip to Germany for therapy on an injured hamstring, doesn't know when he'll play again.

"I was just running a little bit, a little bit of footwork." the 33-year-old German defender said. "And so everything is fine. I don't have pain anymore."

The Fire has a bye week in the MLS schedule this weekend, though it will take on Minnesota United FC in a friendly at the Toyota Park practice field at 10 a.m. Friday -- a match that is free to the public. The next league game is at Toyota Park on April 7 against New York.

"Today was my first practice and everything went fantastic and we will see how my body reacts the next couple of days when we accelerate a little bit," Friedrich said. "I don't want to say anything today."

Friedrich clearly meant no offense to the Fire medical staff when he left for Germany, he just wanted to consult the therapist he has worked with much of his career, going back almost 10 years.

"He knows my body best," Friedrich said of Thomas Fennewald, who is traveling to the United States for four weeks in part to continue working with Friedrich.

Without Friedrich, the Fire (0-3-1, 1 point) has gone winless in its first four games and has twice given up 4 goals in a game.

Friedrich's injury was just one of many to hit the Fire, including captain Logan Pause, defenders Steven Kinney and Michael Videira, midfielder Dilly Duka and -- in Sunday's 4-1 loss to Chivas USA -- Alex, who suffered a bone bruise to his ankle and is listed as questionable for the New York match.

"For him to be back with the possibility of training, being part of our locker room, it's really positive," said Fire president of soccer operations Javier Leon about Friedrich. "And same with some of the other players that have been missing. Hopefully, now we can set a bit of the reset button. And we say, OK, now that phase is over with and we're going to move into a more positive phase."

Avoiding the panic button:

Leon said the club is not going to rush into any changes.

"We feel very good about the roster," Leon said. "Four games into the season, we're not going sort of crazy thinking, oh my God, we have to make changes. Certainly if you look at most soccer experts, when they looked at our roster at the beginning of the year, there was a real consensus that we had a good team, a team that could build on the success that we had a year ago."

Leon said he believes the current roster can make the playoffs this season, and he continues to believe Frank Klopas is the right coach. There is no time frame for changes if the team doesn't improve.

"We're operating on the basis that this team is going to improve," Leon said. "You always have contingency plans for everything, but the basis of our operation at this moment is we're going to improve. We feel, again, that we had a difficult start partially explained by the number of setbacks that we had with injuries. Last year we had the benefit of having very few injuries during the course of the whole year. This year they hit us really hard."

•Follow Orrin on Twitter @orrin_schwarz

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