After losing to Montreal on April 16, the Chicago Fire had a bye week, which meant the team had to stew in that home defeat seven extra days.
Now the team is preparing to take on D.C. United on Saturday at Toyota Park. The team is back to a regular week of practice, but the extra wait after a loss is something the team has had to endure.
“After we lost our game against Montreal, you wanted the next game as soon as possible, but also we believe that we have to be patient," Paunovic said in his weekly conference call with the media on Monday. "We have to understand that we have a possibility to work for two weeks like we did, we have to take advantage of it.
"It’s always helpful when you have two weeks to prepare for the next game and recover and think about down the line and everything necessary in order to be better prepared for the next game after you lose a game. At the same time the guys who like to compete, and I think I am one of them and also in the locker room, we have a lot of guys who are impatient about next game, which is good. I like that very much because they want that payback. They want to show that we can be better."
One of the players who is certainly eager to get back to game action, but hasn't been able to do so for weeks, is David Accam. Without any game action to talk about, Paunovic's weekly David Accam injury update became a focal point of the conference call. For the first time in a few weeks, Paunovic finally sounded more optimistic about Accam, but also downplayed the chances of him coming back against D.C.
“The good news is he is progressing," Paunovic said. "He is at least feeling less pain and it is very located, which is good news. Having a meeting this morning with our doctors, they feel very comfortable with how he is improving and we will see. I don’t know for this game, but in the next couple of weeks we believe that David can be good to go.”
Accam has been in the Fire locker room after home matches while being out with injury and the usually jovial Accam at times looked like a kid who couldn't play in the park with his friends. Paunovic talked about Accam's mentality and gave a bit more detail about the ligament injury.
“He understands that he has to do his treatment and keep his emotions under control and not get frustrated," Paunovic said of Accam. "So far I believe everything in the process of recovery has been the natural process of a ligament injury where you need 6-8 weeks. Right now we are at six weeks. Six weeks of natural recovery helping the treatment with everything he is doing so far. I think we have to understand it’s not a minor injury and we have to be very, very smart in our approach to how we are going through this process of his recovery. He of course would like as quickly as possible to come back, but he is also very smart in how he is managing that excitement and desire to come back and start playing as soon as possible and help the team.
“We have to understand that we don’t want to make this injury worse.”
In addition to being given the OK from the Fire's medical staff, Accam will have to regain fitness after not being able to play. He has been able to be a partial participant in some practices during the injury so he won't be starting from scratch, but getting Accam back up to 90-minute fitness might take an additional week or two.