Just when it appeared the Chicago Fire offense might be starting up, it looks like the defense could be a bigger concern than first feared.
Defender Arne Friedrich went from being on the verge of making his 2013 debut to being out indefinitely when he suffered a hip injury last week while recovering from a hamstring problem. His absence is a big reason why the Fire (1-4-1, 4 points) has allowed a league-high 12 goals this season. The team has a minus-7 goal differential.
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Fire scouting reportColumbus Crew at Chicago Fire, 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Toyota Park
TV: CLTV (11 p.m., tape delay)
Scouting the Crew: Dominic Oduro returns to play the team that traded him in February. He has already scored 3 goals, just 2 short of the Fire's total. Columbus (2-1-3, 9 points) has a very good goalkeeper in Andy Gruenebaum.
Scouting the Fire: Daniel Paladini has assisted on 3 goals for the Fire (1-4-1, 4 points), but his starting job could be in jeopardy with Patrick Nyarko and Dilly Duka recovering from injury. The Fire has given up a league-high 12 goals this season, and injured central defender Arne Friedrich, who hasn't played yet, is now considered out indefinitely after suffering a setback in his recovery.
Next: at Montreal Impact, 3 p.m. April 27 at Stade Saputo.
-- Orrin Schwarz
"We have a young back line still," veteran forward/midfielder Chris Rolfe said. "Wells (Thompson) has been playing a bunch (at right back), but that's way out of position for him. I think he's done a great job.
"But you look at the goals that we've given up, a lot of them are preventable, I think. It's a matter of taking care of details. And that being said, we've had the same issues on offense. It's taking care of the details. We're getting chances and we're not scoring in some games."
Getting Logan Pause back in the lineup at his familiar central midfield spot has helped, Rolfe said.
"He's a guy that makes everyone else around him better, makes everything easier for everybody else. Because of that we've been more organized. We've also been more disciplined. We've also been able to attack better because when he gets the ball he's looking forward, he gets me the ball in good spots," he said.
Then there are the plays Pause makes just by moving into the right spot.
"You have to look for it to really notice it," Rolfe said. "He prevents a lot of through balls, guys making runs, just because he's so smart. He'll move a certain way and cut off an angle, and then all of a sudden that play is out of the question."
Rolfe got a big boost to his confidence when he scored his first goal of the season in last weekend's 2-1 loss at Houston. He hopes to build on that against Columbus on Saturday night at Toyota Park, (7:30 p.m., CLTV tape delay at 11 p.m.).
"As an attacking player, just to get your first goal of the season is always very helpful in confidence building," Rolfe said. "I can't promise that the dam is broken or that I'm going to start scoring a bunch of goals. But it gives me confidence and it gives my teammates confidence that I can score for them."
Follow Orrin on Twitter @orrin_schwarz