Change is the only constant in life and Chicago Fire FC midfielder Alvaro Medran has had plenty of it recently. That's true even within his short tenure at Chicago Fire FC, where he thought he'd finally found the playing time he's been looking for since he turned pro.
The search for a place on the field has taken Medran to six teams over the last six seasons. He joined the famed academy of Real Madrid as a teenager and dreamed of playing at the Santiago Bernabeu with some of the world's biggest stars, a vision that never quite materialized.
Eventually, Medran left for other clubs in Spain, signing a contract with Valencia but going on loan to three other clubs during that time before his contract expired. For a few months last year, he even sat unemployed before getting a call from the Fire, who convinced him to leave everything he knew in search of a better opportunity.
If you thought that was the end of the upheaval, think again.
Medran was the final signing under the old regime of soon-fired coach Veljko Paunovic before an entirely new technical staff took over. That new staff took to Medran and played him every minute of Chicago's first two matches, but then came the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving Medran sitting and waiting. Again.
“I’m taking this with patience," Medran told MLSsoccer.com through a translator. "I had to wait almost a year to play against regularly and just when everything was kicking off, we had to stop and I have to continue waiting. If I have anything, it’s patience.”
Alvaro Medran (left) with Getafe against Barcelona in 2016 | Action Images
If his path to MLS has taught Medran anything, it is patience.
Before leaving Madrid, then head coach Carlo Ancelotti handed Medran his debut with the superclub. He made two appearances off the bench in La Liga as well as another in the Champions League, where he scored goal for the first team.
He remains thankful for the trust Ancelotti gave him, keeping him around the first team. But it's not easy breaking into a club that spends lavish transfer fees every summer. And as that reality eventually led to his departure, he found himself on a club carousel of sorts, arriving at a new home every year, in search for regular playing time that always proved to be just out of reach.
“It wasn’t what I wanted," Medran said of that time in Spain. "When I’d leave to go to other teams, it’d be for regular playing time but it wasn’t what I expected or wanted. They weren’t good years for me. I wanted to keep playing regularly, so it wasn’t the greatest time. But it was good because of that, I ended up coming here. Every day that passes confirms I made the right choice in coming here.”
It's early days, but Medran has shone brightly over 180 minutes in the Fire midfield, picking up an assist and flashing the technical quality that allowed him to climb the ranks at Madrid.
Medran's showing has been particularly impressive given how different the team is from the one he joined last fall. He was was the first recruit of a dramatic roster reconstruction that included three Designated Players and plenty more acquisitions. Of those DPs, only Robert Beric started the club's first two games with Gaston Gimenez making a cameo off the bench and Ignacio Aliseda yet to debut.
Despite the moving parts under new coach Raphael Wicky, the club impressed with two solid performances on the road, a close loss at Seattle and a draw against New England.
“I have a lot of faith and trust in my team," Medran said. "We have new players, a new coach and we’re basically almost a new club. The club has good ideas, the staff has good ideas in what they want from us.”
Once again, though, Medran is now forced into a waiting game. But this time, he has real reason to believe there is light — and playing time — on the other side.
"I can’t wait for things to go back to normal," he said.