Fire

New Fire defender Daneil Cyrus ready to make his mark

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New Fire defender Daneil Cyrus ready to make his mark

It’s been quite the whirlwind month for the Fire’s newest signing.

After enjoying a training stint with the club prior to this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup and having been closely monitored by head coach Frank Yallop and the technical staff throughout the tournament, Daneil Cyrus sealed a loan move from TT Pro League side W Connection to the Fire on the last day of the MLS secondary transfer window.

Since then, the Trinidad and Tobago international has spent the better part of the last four weeks in paperwork limbo. Despite acquiring his International Transfer Certificate on Aug. 12, the 24-year-old was forced to remain in his native country to await the receipt of his P1 visa. Upon receiving his passport, his entry into the Fire fold was halted yet again after being summoned by Stephen Hart to face Mexico in an international friendly on Sept 4. in Sandy, Utah, a 2-2 draw in which Cyrus featured 90 minutes.

“JJ [Joevin Jones] and the guys wanted to know if my loan deal was for next year,” said Cyrus, who communicated his frustration with the long-drawn-out process to reporters on Wednesday.

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You couldn’t blame his teammates' inquisition.

In the time between the announcement of Cyrus’ purchase on Aug. 6 and Monday – his first official day of training with the club – the Men in Red played seven games, bowing out of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and taking just five points from 18 available. Although he’s only had a few days to get his bearings, the Trinidadian leaves no doubt as to which area of the field he would prefer to ply his trade in should his services be required heading into the final stretch of the season.   

“Anywhere the coach would want me to play, I will play, but I prefer playing center back,” Cyrus added, “because of my vision to see the field, but as well as right back. My strength is my speed, so I don’t mind playing right back as well.”

Whether Cyrus impresses enough to guarantee a spot in Yallop’s starting lineup for Friday night's clash with New York Red Bulls (6 p.m. CT; UniMás) remains to be seen. What is certain, however, is that at 6-foot-4, his stature alone will supply the back line with a different, and perhaps more imposing presence.

[RELATED: Fire's defensive issues compounded by loss to Impact]

“It’s nice to add a player,” Yallop said via Monday via teleconference. “It took a while with the permit and all the red tape and paperwork we had to get through and waiting. It’s been kind of frustrating, but he’s here now. He’s a young international player who’s done well for his country, and we’re trying to integrate him into MLS once we get him training with us and get him playing games. I expect him to see the field for sure. I don’t know exactly when. We just have to make sure he’s up to speed on everything, but there’s no time like now, because we need to get a result Friday.”

For now, Cyrus is hoping to take the experience gained from his brief spell with Sporting Kansas City on loan in the summer of 2011, and fine-tune his game to adapt to the physical demands of the league to make for a better adjustment in the Windy City. 

“Of course it’s a conversation that I had," Cyrus said when asked if he'd held talks with the coaching staff about extending his stay with the club beyond 2015. "The environment is nice, Chicago is a very lovely place, the team is a very big team in the league over the years,” he said. “I don’t mind making a permanent move.”

NOTES

- Gilberto left training early Wednesday morning with "a little bit of a hamstring," according to Yallop, which was confirmed as a strain by a club spokesperson. The Brazilian is listed as questionable for Friday.

- David Accam (Ghana), Joevin Jones (Trinidad and Tobago) and Collin Fernandez (United States; U-20s) all participated in full training. Matt Polster (U.S.; U-23s) will fly directly from England to Harrison, N.J. to meet up with the squad ahead of the trip to face the Red Bulls.  

- Konstantin Möllering is no longer training with the club.

Bastian Schweinsteiger finally sees the field in Fire preseason

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USA TODAY

Bastian Schweinsteiger finally sees the field in Fire preseason

Coach Veljko Paunovic still went with a second-choice lineup to start the Fire's preseason match against USL expansion team Nashville SC on Wednesday, but the second half featured the first preseason action for Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Schweinsteiger came on for the second half, along with Nemanja Nikolic, Johan Kappelhof and a few other Fire regulars. The German sat out the first four preseason games, but looked sharp in his 45 minutes.

One of the highlights was this smooth move between two defenders:

Schweinsteiger also had an impressive switch pass to set up a shot for second-round pick Diego Campos in the final minutes of the game. Campos drilled the shot on target, but was unable to beat the goalkeeper.

The team did not say Schweinsteiger was injured despite the repeated absences in matches. The Fire have dealt with injuries to Matt Polster, Luis Solignac, Daniel Johnson and rookie Grant Lillard this preseason. None of those four, along with Dax McCarty, played in the 0-0 draw.

The Fire next play Saturday at Orlando in a final match in Florida before returning to Chicago. The Fire also play Tulsa, the team's USL affiliate, at Toyota Park on March 3 before taking on Sporting Kansas City in the season opener on March 10.

Injuries affecting Fire's preseason with season three weeks away

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USA TODAY

Injuries affecting Fire's preseason with season three weeks away

It may be a good thing that the Fire’s originally scheduled season opener March 3 at Colorado got moved back.

The Fire’s preseason has been riddled with injuries to key players and the extra week may end up being needed to get the team ready for the season. Four players (not counting the already known long-term injuries to Michael de Leeuw and Djordje Mihailovic) sat out Saturday’s game against Florida Gulf Coast University due to injury: Daniel Johnson (a right ankle injury suffered in a game against Philadelphia on Feb. 8), Grant Lillard (left knee), Matt Polster (left knee) and Luis Solignac (left hip).

Polster’s injury is especially notable because he has had recurring left knee problems since first suffering a sprain in the 2016 season finale at Toronto. Polster missed the first nine games of 2017 due to the injury and missed three more in August due to a related injury.

The 24-year-old, who is now the longest tenured player on the team and the only player remaining from before general manager Nelson Rodriguez’s tenure began at the end of the 2015 season, arrived with the Fire after playing with the U.S. national team in January. He played all 90 minutes on Jan. 28 against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bastian Schweinsteiger still hasn’t played in the preseason and the team hasn’t listed him as injured.

All the absences, combined with rest for some of the team’s regulars, resulted in a starting lineup against Florida Gulf Coast that featured two players who have appeared in an official match with the Fire. Three trialists and four draft picks started.

Four of the Fire’s seven scheduled preseason matches are in the books. The Fire lost 2-1 to Montreal on Feb. 14. One of the bright spots was a rare set piece goal after the Fire trailed the Impact 2-0. Dax McCarty headed in a free kick from Diego Campos. Campos has been dangerous on set pieces, hitting the post with a free kick and assisting a goal from a corner kick in Saturday’s 2-0 win against Florida Gulf Coast.

Next up is a match against USL expansion team Nashville SC on Feb. 21. Next Saturday the Fire play at Orlando to finish up play in Florida.

The Fire close out the preseason March 3 against the team’s USL affiliate, Tulsa, at Toyota Park before the season opener on March 10.