Jeff Larentowicz
Brian Kersey Chicago Fire

Even without Larentowicz, Fire have confidence in midfield vs. Union

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- With Jeff Larentowicz’s red card vs. Montreal being upheld last week, Fire head coach Frank Klopas will be forced to deploy his ninth different lineup in as many matches this season on Saturday against the Philadelphia Union.

“We’ve been unlucky with our lineup this year,” Klopas told “We’ve had injuries and a few suspensions that have made it difficult to keep a consistent team together but we’ve also gotten some strong performances out of guys that we needed to step up.”

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One player that has made a habit of stepping up of late is midfielder Daniel Paladini who seems set to continue in central midfield again on Saturday.

The third-year Fire midfielder has experienced his best season early on this year with the Men in Red, tallying one goal and three assists while playing on the right side of midfield or while slotting in for Logan Pause.

After deputizing at right back two weeks ago at Montreal, Pause seems set to pair with Paladini in central midfield Saturday, a partnership that has worked together at times over the last three seasons.

“Logan and I are very similar,” said Paladini. “We’re going to work hard together and be on the same page. We’ve played together before and he’s definitely more defensive minded and allows me to get forward a bit more. It won’t be a big adjustment.”

Still, with all the switches to the Fire starting 11 over the course of the season, one of the few constants has been Larentowicz. Up until his 63rd minute ejection in Montreal, the veteran midfielder had appeared in every minute of action for the Fire so far this season.

The Fire may miss Big Red’s presence on Saturday but Patrick Nyarko backed Paladini to continue his solid run of matches this season.

READ: Larentowicz kept expectations low in red appeal

“We’ll definitely miss the kind of edge and leadership Jeff gives us in the middle,” he said. “I’ve always said the coaching staff has a very difficult job of picking our center midfielders. That’s the toughest competitive position on our team.

“Danny has been playing amazing whenever he gets the chance and it’s an opportunity for him to step back in with Logan in the middle back to conduct the whole team. We have guys to step in and do a job but we’ll definitely miss Jeff.”