Fire

After waiting a year and a half, Patrick Doody takes advantage of his chance

After waiting a year and a half, Patrick Doody takes advantage of his chance

For a season and a half Patrick Doody waited for his chance under coach Veljko Paunovic.

He finally got it last weekend against Sporting Kansas City, playing for the first time since his rookie season in 2015. He got another start, and three assists, in Saturday’s 4-1 win against New England.

“He still has a lot of things to improve, keep working, stay on the ground, but he did well,” Paunovic said. “Obviously we’re happy with his performance. In the second half he was kind of more relaxed because he was further from me on the other side of the sideline. It was a good performance from him and it’s great to have depth in that position. Obviously that was his second start this year and he’s adjusting very well. He’s giving the team what the team needs, solidness in defense and in attack he’s determined and has that great curveball and great crosses like the one that he served when Michael de Leeuw scored. That’s what we expect from him and he delivered that, so that’s great.”

Doody assisted David Accam’s goal in the 3-2 loss in Kansas City last week. Against New England he assisted Juninho’s first Fire goal, with some help from a Bastian Schweinsteiger dummy, and sent in a pearl of a cross to de Leeuw, who headed in the Fire’s third goal.

After setting up de Leeuw’s goal, Doody’s teammates piled on him in celebration of his standout play.

“I tell a lot of guys, if you’re not playing, one of the key things that you need to do is get the respect of your teammates,” Doody said. “Sometimes that’s all you can do is be a good teammate. Knowing that the guys in the locker room trust me and have confidence in me, that goes a long way. It’s a really good locker room and I’m really lucky to have these guys with me.”

Doody, who is a homegrown player from Naperville, capped off his standout night by dribbling into the corner in added time, but finding room to cross into the box. From there, Luis Solignac collected the ball and scored to give Doody a hat trick of assists.

Doody’s playing time came with Brandon Vincent, the starting left back since the start of last season, going down with a quad injury in warmups before a match in Portland on July 5. On that day, Michael Harrington was the last minute replacement, but he labored to finish the match.

Doody has since stepped in as the start and, while he was burned for a goal in Kansas City, has produced on the attacking end.

“It’s all about just trying to be ready,” Doody said. “Brandon has had a great year, an outstanding year, and it’s unfortunate what happened to him. Through this whole time I’ve just been trying to be ready and grateful that coach gave me an opportunity. I’m trying to keep staying out there, that’s how it is.”

Doody is in his third year in the league and has made nine appearances and eight starts with the Fire. He has spent much of his time with the Fire on loan, most of which has been with Saint Louis FC. Doody had another stint in Missouri earlier this summer.

His man of the match performance on Saturday will help make the case that he can stick in MLS.

“Everyone in here has something to prove,” Doody said. “This is my third year with the team. Obviously being a homegrown guy, it means a lot to me being on this team. I knew this year was going to have to be a big one, especially after how last year didn’t necessarily go my way. I’m really grateful for the opportunity. I have a lot that I really want to get better at, but tonight was a special night.”

As Fire near playoffs, Bastian Schweinsteiger's immediate and long-term futures are in question

schwein-1018.jpg
USA TODAY

As Fire near playoffs, Bastian Schweinsteiger's immediate and long-term futures are in question

Bastian Schweinsteiger has delivered on the promise of a big name star since joining the Fire in late March. He has produced on the field, drawn lots of attention to the club, the team has won enough to get into its first postseason since 2012 and, until recently, he stayed healthy.

However, the 33-year-old German has played 19 minutes in the previous six matches and told reporters on Wednesday that he will not play in the regular season finale in Houston on Sunday. He missed four straight matches with a calf injury before returning against New York City FC on Sept. 30 for a substitute appearance.

Schweinsteiger left practice early with what appeared to be a reaggravation of the injury on Oct. 4 and now it is known that will cost him at least two games. With the playoff picture still in flux (the Fire can finish anywhere from second to fifth in the Eastern Conference), the Fire could potentially face a three-day turnaround and travel after the Houston game or could have a first-round bye. Keeping Schweinsteiger fresher for that crunch of games could end up being a good thing, but it also runs the risk of his match fitness not being at 100 percent for the postseason.

Beyond the postseason, Schweinsteiger dropped this tease of a nugget to the Daily Herald's Orrin Schwarz just an hour before Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez spoke with reporters for almost an hour at Toyota Park.

Schweinsteiger, who was not at training, was autographing memorabilia in the form of soccer balls, posters and jerseys. Chicago Red Stars fans may get a kick out of the fact that Schweinsteiger was wearing a Red Stars hoodie.

Initially, the club said Schweinsteiger signed a one-year contract with a mutual option. Later in the day, when asked about Schweinsteiger's future, Rodriguez said the mutual option doesn't have a set number attached to it.

"That would require a negotiation," Rodriguez said. "It was mutual in a sense of we didn’t want either party to feel bound without having had the year of experience to draw on. From our perspective, our experience has been extraordinarily positive with Bastian. We think he’s delivered across all of our expectations and we hope that we have delivered against his expectations.”

So in essence, there is no mutual option. Schweinsteiger and the Fire have to come to terms again on a deal for the German to return in 2018. That's not to say Schweinsteiger can't come back, but there's nothing in writing that binds the two together for next season.

Rodriguez said talks have only begun in the very preliminary stages at this point.

“The most that Basti and I have done is, both said, hey this has gone pretty well." Rodriguez said. "You like it. I like it... So I think we want to remain with our original plan. It was to look to have the hard discussions at the end of the season. My view is in-season negotiations always prove to be a distraction, whether to the player or to me. There can be a team element if it becomes public.

"I don’t want to speak for Basti, but from what we’ve gleaned and what he shared with us, he and (wife) Ana (Ivanovic) are very comfortable in the city. They love it. I think he’s really enjoyed the locker room, the guys, the support of the fans. I think he’s really taken to the challenge of Major League Soccer. I think the signs are positive, but again we would prefer to have the season close before finalizing anything.”

Special edition of the Fire Talk Podcast: What’s wrong with U.S. Soccer?

bradley-us-fail-pod.jpg
AP

Special edition of the Fire Talk Podcast: What’s wrong with U.S. Soccer?

It's a special edition of the Fire Talk Podcast!

Dan Santaromita, Justin O’Neil, JJ Stankevitz and Tom Cooper try to answer all the questions that surfaced after the U.S. failed to qualify for the World Cup. What went wrong in qualifying, who was at fault, what can be fixed, will things get better? Has any American soccer fan calmed down even a week after? The four on the panel sure still are plenty fired up.