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2011 Recap - The Forwards | Chicago Fire
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DSC_0896Welcome to the fourth and final installment of our four part series recapping the Chicago Fire's 2011 campaign. In this portion of the series we will focus on the strikers. The Fire finished the season with a completely different look up front than they started with, and by the time it was all said and done, they had a legitimate golden boot candidate. A season that started with a duo up front from Uruguay ended with another pair of countrymen, only this time it was a Ghanaian duo that helped power the Fire attack down the stretch. Click below to read the recap of Dominic Oduro, Patrick Nyarko, Diego Chaves, Christian Nazarit and Orr Barouch.

Dominic Oduro - The offensive MVP for the 2011 Fire didn't even start the season in a Fire kit. He began the year in Houston and missed an absolute sitter of a goal in Houston's opener. He was booed off the pitch and Chicago traded the injured Calen Carr to acquire Oduro very early in the season. He started playing a mixture of forward and midfielder, especially in Marco Pappa's Gold Cup absence, and Fire supporters were dazzled by his blazing speed. We quickly learned how maddening he could be however, as he missed some pretty easy goals and it appeared he had no idea how to finish. After Frank Klopas took over the on field duties and made some moves to switch around the formations and lineups he obviously spent some time working with Dom, because he became a prolific scoring threat in the last third of the season and really helped propel the Fire into the playoff picture. The combination of speed and finishing ability he showed down the stretch makes Dom a huge threat to opposing defensive lines and keepers, and I hope he's wearing Chicago Fire red for a long time to come.DSC_0753-1

Patrick Nyarko - The other half of the Ghanaian speed duo started the season as a midfielder. Again, tactical changes came with the new boss, and Patrick was moved up front with Dom. The blazing speed that the two strikers possessed together gave opposing teams absolute fits, and the duo of Patrick and Dom up front was very lethal. One of the best things about Patrick is his ability to find Dom when he has the ball at his feet, becoming a huge assist guy up front. I love Nyarko's speed, his passing ability, and his ability to score as well when he has to. I absolutely love the striker duo of Oduro and Nyarko, their combination of speed and ability is going to be hard for teams to stop. 

Diego Chaves - Diego started off the season as a starting XI forward. He got off to a blistering start scoring in his first three matches and really turning some heads. Fire supporters were excited to have a legitimate scoring threat up front, and that all disappeared as quickly as it started. Diego went on a run of bad form and when Frank took over he found himself mostly relegated to the bench. He looked bad when he got opportunities, and I was done with him. Of course all of that changed over the last week of the season as Diego netted the game winner in each of the last two matches of the 2011 season. There have been some rumors about whether or not he'll be back next year, some even speculating that he's already left the club, but I haven't seen anything solid to confirm that yet. If Diego can get his form back and remain the player he was in the first two and the last week of the season, I wouldn't mind seeing him back. But, at this point I can take it or leave it.

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Christian Nazarit - When he transferred to Chicago in the early part of the season Carlos de los Cobos used him quite a bit. Like Chaves, he was mostly relegated to the bench when Klopas took over and he played a huge role in the reserve squad's 2011 campaign. He led the MLS Reserves in goals scored and showed a little bit of speed himself. I think he still needs a lot of development, and he really needs to work on his tenacity and his ability to go get the ball, especially in and around the box, but if he continues to progress he can be a vital asset to this team in the next 2-3 years.

Orr Barouch - On loan from Tigres Barouch really became sort of a cult hero in Chicago. He didn't get a ton of opportunities to play, which only added to his mystique even more. He's gotten a couple of Israel U-21 call-ups and is potentially going to be training with the powerhouse of the Israeli Premier League, Maccabi Haifa, during the off-season. He also has a serious amount of potential and the rumor is that the Fire are trying to keep him around for 2012. I would love to see more of Orr in 2012, hopefully we'll be treated to that.

Kellen Gulley - The Fire's second homegrown player was signed to the club midsummer. It was stated that he would begin training with the team right away, but would not see first team action until 2012. We caught a glimpse of him in the friendly match up vs. CD Guadalajara and he looked pretty good. He showed some speed, and a nose for the ball. Obviously it was a very limited sample size, but I look forward to seeing him running around with the first team a little more in 2012.