Change in the middle? Fire's Pause fighting for his spot
Logan Pause has been around the block a few times. He’s 31 years old, and has been the Chicago Fire’s captain for the last three years. He’s gotten a few call-ups for the US national team. He’s seen the lows of the post-contraction years in MLS, and the highs of recent expansion and record-setting attendance.
Through it all, as he enters his 11th season in Chicago, he’s been a starter -- 236 of his 259 career appearances have been from the whistle -- primarily in central midfield.
Nonetheless, Pause was his normal, positive self when the Fire reported to Ave Maria, Fla., for the team's first leg of training camp.
“I'd be selling this team short, and I think any player here would be selling this team and this club short if they said they didn't want to win, and if that means bringing in more guys in the middle of the midfield, that's what that means,” Pause told MLSsoccer.com. “[Acquiring] two proven players of their caliber is only going to make us a better team. That's absolutely the most important thing.”
After Pável Pardo retired this offseason, it appears that the three central midfielders will be fighting for two spots.
Larentowicz welcomed the competition. The 29-year-old made it clear that he wanted to come to Chicago when he heard the Fire were interested in his services, even though a starting spot isn't guaranteed.
“It's a good club, it's a good city, it's a playoff team that has a lot of talent,” Larentowicz said. “I haven't really gotten down to X's and O's with the coaches yet. … They do have talented players in the midfield, and I'm just looking to compete. Whatever happens, happens.”
While it's too soon to pinpoint coach Frank Klopas' plans for how he'll draw up his lineup, it's possible that all three central midfielders could start if Chris Rolfe is moved to the outside, filling the void left by Álvaro Fernández, who appears to have left for Al-Rayyan of Qatar on a six-month loan.
But if the Fire choose to keep Rolfe at the second-striker position, one of the three veterans will likely be left to start on the bench.
It could be Pause, the one constant on a roster that’s been shifting over the better part of a decade. Klopas, however, was mum on the subject.
“We felt that there were [issues] in the midfield that we needed to address, and we brought in some players who have been very good players in this league and I think they bring something different,” Klopas said on a teleconference this week. “But that's why everyone is here in camp. Obviously we brought some quality players in, but a lot is going to be decided on what takes place in the next six weeks.”