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2. MLS: Fire looking for Spark
March 20th, 2007 2:29AM

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By Ridge Mahoney

There will be pressure on Chad Barrett this season to score goals for the Fire, which lost Andy Herron (Crew) and Nate Jaqua (Galaxy) during the offseason. They ranked first and second, respectively, on the team in goalscoring last year with nine and eight goals.

Barrett notched five goals in 2006, his second season as a pro, while starting only nine of the 16 games in which he played. He scored twice for the Fire Saturday in a wild 4-3 loss to FC Dallas at the Saturn Cup played in Norman, Okla.

Sitting out the match was forward partner Chris Rolfe, who scored seven goals in 21 games last year. Like Barrett, he is in his third year as a pro, and unlike Barrett - a former U.S. under-20 - Rolfe is in the senior national team pool. He, along with Fire teammate Justin Mapp, were named to the 24-man squad selected by Coach Bob Bradley for matches against Ecuador and Guatemala later this month.

(But Rolfe has had to pull out of the U.S. camp because of a knee injury, as has Houston midfielder Ricardo Clark. They are being replaced by midfield Brian Mullan and outside back Wade Barrett of Houston.)

Chicago's loss to FC Dallas was its third straight of the preseason, following setbacks dealt by UCLA and Los Angeles.

Whether or not the team is able to sign Mexican attacker Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Coach Dave Sarachan needs time to rebuild his attack.

Losing Mapp for perhaps another 10 days isn't the best preparation for an Eastern Conference that figures to be even more competitive than last year, with new coaches in Kansas City (Curt Onalfo) and D.C. (Tom Soehn), Claudio Reyna playing for the Red Bulls, and an expansion team in Toronto.


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