The Chicago Fire’s lack of confidence was so thick during the middle of last season, Pavel Pardo could feel it when he came to Chicago in late July. They were 2-6-12, fallen into an abyss of draws and last-minute losses, and hopes of a turnaround were grim.
Even as a new player, the two-time World Cup veteran knew he needed to speak up.
“The first time when I came here, for sure I [saw] the confidence was really not 100 percent,” Pardo told MLSsoccer.com. “There were a lot of games tied, they were in the last position. I tried to communicate that we have to be confident.”
Immediately, Pardo made a difference. In his first game against Philadelphia, he scored a goal. Through his first few weeks, which included a 4-2 loss in Vancouver, Pardo stressed to his teammates that they needed to have the right mentality.
“I know I understand, sometimes it’s life, sometimes it’s sports, but sometimes it’s coming from your mind,” Pardo said. “If you’re positive, if you have a good attitude in training, if you have the right mentality, you can have success, or in life you can have success. If you don’t have that, it’s all about your mind, it’s all about your mentality.”
Gradually, that mentality improved, and so did the locker room chemistry. The Fire finished 7-2-1, narrowly missing out on the playoffs.
Team captain Logan Pause knows the former VfB Stuttgart and Club America midfielder had a huge part in last season’s culture shift.
“He played a massive role in changing things,” Pause told MLSsoccer.com. “He’s just a perfect example to myself and to everybody in the locker room of what it means to be a professional, of what the kind of qualities are that it takes to be successful in training every day. He leads by example.”
The overhaul in leadership and mentality isn’t yet finished – Pardo thinks that the arrival of German international defender Arne Friedrich in the coming days will only make things better.
“You can see the mentality of the team is different,” Pardo said. “If you want to have a good team, you have to have guys on your team with winner mentalities, that’s important. Now, everybody thinks like that.”
En Espanõl: Pardo quiere escribir su propia historia