Carribean king: Boucicaut ready for action
The Chicago Fire's newst signing, Alexandre Boucicaut, is using a combination of French, Spanish and English to describe just how much he wants to help out his new team. The 22-year-old Haitian international has spent the better part of the summer at Halas Hall training with the "Men in Red" on a trial basis, but is anxious to take the field for his first MLS appearance. He's ready to commit and he's even skipping his country's exhibition match this week against defending World Cup champion Brazil to prove it.
"It's all good. I'm getting used to this city. I like it more each day," says Boucicaut (pronounced "Boo-ci-KOH").
Quiet, polite and focused, his 5'6, 148-lbs. frame looks tiny as he sits patiently, backpack and all, in a giant, unoccupied suite at Soldier Field. But don't let his body fool you. The Port-au-Prince native comes well-armed.
"He's a handful and he's fast," says Fire forward Dipsy Selolwane. "He beats his man and is very good with the ball. He's also got a nose for the goal and can score nicely."
Boucicaut -who looks like Selolwane, moves like former Fire star DaMarcus Beasley and speaks in different languages to get his point across like another former Fire star - Hristo Stoitchkov - is somewhat of a hero in Haiti, having represented the island country 15 times with the U-23 national team while appearing eight times for the senior squad. He's created quite a stir among the Haitian community since he arrived in Chicago, where he says he feels at home due to the large number of Haitians that reside there, particularly in nearby Evanston. With a new circle of friends, a new hangout spot called Rendez-vous (in Evanston) and a positive attitude, which would benefit the Fire, Boucicaut appears to be ready to go, but is Chicago ready for him?
Chicago Fire: This is the second time you have visited Soldier Field since you've been here. What are your impressions of it?
Alexandre Boucicaut: It's very beautiful and very big. I like it a lot. The fans make it more exciting. You can see how loyal and supportive they are of the Fire.
I saw you warming up earlier and it seemed like you had at least four layers of clothing. I'm sure you've noticed the weather here can change drastically.
Yes, it's a little strange with all the changes, but I don't mind.
Does a return trip to Chicago mean that you've impressed the coaches enough?
I'm honored to be here training with the Fire. I like this team and this town and I'm doing everything in my power to increase my chances of signing with the club. I have friends here but all of the players are my friends now. I feel pretty much at home in Chicago.
I hear there are over 80,000 Haitians in the Chicago area. What was the Haitian community's reaction when they found out you were on trial with the Fire?
Back home everyone's happy that I'm training with the Fire. They know it's a good team, one of the best in this league. Haiti does not have a lot of players that play in MLS. It was a big deal when Jean-Philippe Peguero signed with the Colorado Rapids, and I want to become a part of it as well. There's a lot of hype in Haiti about me being here. Haitian radio stations and newspapers keep calling me everyday to ask if I've signed with the Fire yet. Everyone is somewhat in suspense, but I know I have to be patient. Good things come to those who wait.
Over the course of a few years we've seen quite a number of Caribbean players join MLS teams, such as Peguero, Cornell Glen (MetroStars), Damani Ralph (Chicago Fire), Avery John (New England Revolution) and Fabian Taylor (MetroStars) to name a few. Why do you think there's this sudden interest from Caribbean players to come to MLS?
I'm not really sure why that is. In only a few years this league has gotten much stronger and the level of play has gotten better. The Caribbean players have seen that and want to be a part of that. Personally, I think MLS is an outstanding league and it's only going to get better.
You've been commended for your quickness and skills, especially on the right side. In what ways do you feel you can contribute to Dave Sarachan's squad?
I know I can contribute to this team and I hope I get that opportunity. I can play on the right side as well as on the left side. I am willing to adjust to what the team needs me to do because I'm here to help in any way possible. We all need to work together to get this team back up to where it needs to be.
The team is going through its worst stretch ever. What does the Fire need to do to get back on their feet?
Well, it's never easy to watch your team struggle and it's especially hard for me because I can't do anything about it. I think the team lacks speed and it's not putting the pressure it needs to put on opposing teams. I really feel I can help this team because I've got speed and I feel I can bring a positive attitude, but right now I'm limited to being with the team at practice only. I know the team has a winning tradition and it's won many championships in the past. I feel that the championships are still within its reach now and I want to be a part of that.
What do you like most about Chicago?
I like just about everything about Chicago. It's a beautiful, clean city. The people are very nice and it's apparent they're very proud of their city. Plus the food is great. There's a lot of diversity and plenty of nice places to visit. I don't think I can ever be bored here.
How difficult would it be for you to adjust to the American culture, especially in a big city like this one?
It wouldn't be difficult for me at all. I am eager to join this team and that's my main goal right now. The rest will fall into place. I'm confident of that.
Why the Fire?
I like the make-up of the team, its history and this city. I turned down an offer from Peñarol of the Uruguayan First Division and I chose to come here because of the big Haitian community here. I hope it all works out.
Have you developed a particularly good chemistry with any players yet?
Yes, I have a pretty good chemistry with Damani Ralph, Dipsy Selolwane and Andy Williams. Our communication is good. Chris Armas has also been excellent. He pushes everyone in training and gives me great advise. He's a great captain.
You speak French and some Spanish but you're not as fluent in English. Do you think this will be a significant issue should you join the team?
No. I speak some English and I understand most of it. I am learning it fast and am eager to play. If I'm out there, I'll have no problem.