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,
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.