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Sunday, March 3

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Fire Wed Aug 08 2012

Fire Get Reinforcements for Playoff Push

As the Chicago Fire gear up for the final months of their playoff fight, they've gotten some reinforcements. Rather than spend big money for a huge superstar, the Fire have managed to acquire two Designated Players in Dutch striker Sherjill MacDonald and Seattle's Uruguayan midfielder, Alvaro Fernandez.

The move led to the exits of Colombian Rafael Rabayo and Uruguayan striker Federico Puppo, two players that never quite managed to find their footing in MLS and hadn't seen much playing time recently. Oddly for salary cap-exempt Designated Players, neither Fernandez or MacDonald are going into situations where they can be assured of playing time either.

Fernandez started in place of Patrick Nyarko on the right wing during this weekend's 2-1 win against Toronto FC. He looked good player and he managed some decent crosses before being pulled after taking an ankle knock. But did he look that much better than Nyarko, who subbed on for the Fire's second half comeback?

MacDonald has entered games against San Jose and Toronto as a substitute. He's looked quick and clever, though since he's been without a club for a while so fitness is going to be an issue. He also might take some time to figure out his new teammates. Against San Jose, he made the mistake of putting Logan ... Pause, of all people through one-on-one with the goalkeeper. OK, I might be kidding with that last point, but still, MacDonald needs a little time to get comfortable in Chicago.

So both can contribute, but neither player is going to make the kind of immediate impact the Fire's first Designated Player, Cuahtemoc Blanco, made. But, do the Fire really need to shell out the big bucks for that kind of player?

With twelve games left in the season, the Fire have won more games this season than the last two seasons combined. The biggest problem they've had this season is that whenever they have a stretch of games too close together, they end up tanking one. With more depth in attack, they should be able to put together a more consistent run of results. With all of their remaining games coming against Eastern Conference rivals and the Fire holding onto the fifth playoff spot, they'll have to.

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