Chicago Fire coach Denis Hamlett has had to use his entire roster this year, including his youngest players, to survive a busy schedule, unexpected departures, and a backlog of injuries. "I think our young guys this year have stepped up to the challenge," Hamlett said. "Given the fact of the injuries and all of the games we have had, they have played important games and important minutes and have been able to develop well."
Without a reserve team, the Fire used its reserves to fill in for missing starters in league games. On defense, the Fire suffered injuries to Tim Ward, Wilman Conde and Gonzalo Segares. All-star center back Bakary Soumare moved to France. To fill these places, the Fire used 25-year-old Dasan Robinson (eight starts), 24-year-old Austin Washington (four starts) and 25-year-old (as of Tuesday) Mike Banner, a converted midfielder (seven starts). Daniel Woolard, 25, also had four starts but himself been injured much of the season. In the middle, the Fire "discovered" 24-year-old Peter Lowry and used 22-year-old first-round draft pick Baggio Husidic when Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Logan Pause and John Thorrington missed games due to call-ups or injury. Lowry has eight starts and Husidic four. Up top, 23-year-old Patrick Nyarko became a starter immediately when Chris Rolfe suffered a training camp ailment. He has 21 starts. The Fire has also used forwards Calen Carr (10 appearances) and Stefan Dimitrov (seven games, one start).
The Fire, 10-7-12, sits on the verge of securing a playoff spot this season. Next season, the team expects to lose a number of its most consistent players. Rolfe is already gone, as he has completed his transfer to Denmark. Brian McBride, Marco Pappa, Segares and Blanco are all uncertain to return. Despite these losses, however, the Fire should have some experienced young players ready to fill the voids.