The Chicago Fire’s backline just got a super-sized helping of experience.
The signing of German center back Arne Friedrich on Wednesday doesn’t just add a new face – it adds a guy who’s played 13 games for Germany in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, both times reaching the semifinals, and 82 overall during a decorated international career.
“He’s a world-class player,” coach Frank Klopas said. “He just has tremendous experience. The level that he’s played and the experience he brings to the team, the attitude, he’s got a mentality that can push the group.”
The 32-year-old defender will bolster a backline that already includes veteran central defender Cory Gibbs.
Friedrich last played for VfL Wolfsburg, where he played in 15 games in 2010-11. He had injury issues last season, but Klopas said that after the completion of a physical, he’s not worried about his new center back’s health.
“He’s a guy that knows what it’s like to play at the top of the top," team captain Logan Pause told MLSsoccer.com. "I think the more guys you can get to understand what it takes to be a professional – the training habits that are required and just know how to act on and off the field – I think it’s just wonderful.”
Friedrich is the second World Cup veteran that the Fire have signed in the past year after adding Pável Pardo last July.
Pardo played for VfB Stuttgart in the Bundesliga for three years and came across Friedrich several times when the German played for Hertha Berlin. Both wore the captain's armband for their respective clubs at some point during their stints in the Bundesliga.
“That’s a good player, and he has a good mentality,” Pardo said. “If you want to have a good team, you have to have guys with a good mentality, that winner mentality.”
The acquisition means Klopas will have to shuffle the backline. Center back Jalil Anibaba is likely the odd man out, but the second-year player also played right back last year before the Fire acquired Dan Gargan.
“We’ll just have to see,” Klopas said about how the unit will shake out with Friedrich in the mix. “Obviously, we have players that can play different positions.”