BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Álvaro Fernández went out on a high note in Seattle, but he didn’t realize the end was coming.
After a tumultuous year, which included a benching and a failed move to Colombia, the Uruguayan international scored in games against Colorado and New York in late July.
But a move for Designated Player Christian Tiffert forced the Sounders to trade Fernández to Chicago.
“I thought everything was going well,” Fernández said this week at training through a translator. “I thought I was one of the better midfielders in Seattle … the decision came as a surprise to me. But there’s no reproach there at all.”
Another offensive dry-spell followed.
Fernández didn’t score or notch an assist in his first five games with the Fire, and a low point came when he missed two point-blank chances in Chicago's 3-1 win over Houston.
While it’s typical for new players to worry about proving themselves, Fernández had been around the league long enough to inspire confidence in his teammates.
“I wasn’t worried a bit about his confidence,” Fire midfielder Patrick Nyarko told MLSsoccer.com. “He’s a classy player, and he’s been around for awhile, he’s got that experience. … He knows he’s going to keep getting chances and he’s not going to miss all of them. That’s the confidence he has, and I don’t think he ever lacked it.”
The Fire were confident enough in Fernández’s play and reputation to sell Marco Pappa to Dutch club SC Heerenveen in late August.
And in his last two games, Fernández repaid the club for its confidence.
The midfielder scored in wins against Toronto and Montreal and assisted on Alex’s goal in the Fire’s 3-1 win over the Impact last Saturday.
“From the moment I got here, I felt confident and comfortable, but contributing goals and assists always improves confidence,” Fernández said. “I feel good now, definitely better than when I got here, and I’ve gotten to know the city, so it’s been good in that respect.”
The goals are finally coming for Fernández, and head coach Frank Klopas doesn’t expect his offensive output to slow as the Fire, who have won six of seven, surge toward the playoffs.
“His attitude’s been good, and he’s fit in well,” Klopas told MLSsoccer.com. “He’s had a few good games, but I know he has a lot more to give to the team. He’s a very good player, and I think he can give a lot more.”