Andy Herron, the Chicago Fire's new acquisition, is enjoying his new environment, and immeidately comes across as an outgoing, charismatic and down-to-earth person.
The 26-year-old striker is already a standout player in his native Costa Rica, where he has become a mainstay with the national team and where he has been playing since he learned how to walk.
"I started out with the youth teams in my hometown in Limon and gradually moved on to the second and first teams. I played with Santos for two seasons and from there I made the huge leap to Herediano," recalls Herron.
Herron is polite and answers every question without hesitation. Despite his limited time with the Chicago Fire, the former Costa Rican U-23 national team star has become a key figure in Dave Sarachan's linuep as the Fire look to earn their seventh consecutive playoff berth.
DG: Are you satisfied with your debut last weekend against New Engalnd?
AH: "I played against D.C. United the week before that but I do consider last weekend's game my real debut. It was unbelievable. It was almost as if I'd never left my home. Coach Sarachan and the coaches, and all my teammates made me feel at home from day one and I think that was apparent in the way I played Saturday. The chemistry I have with Chris Armas is terrific. The same with Andy Williams, Damani Ralph and C.J. Brown. Plus, Soldier Field is so amazing - anyone would be insipired to play soccer at such a beautiful place in front of such a great crowd."
DG: Are you happy with your decision to come to MLS or was your mind set on playing in Mexico or overseas?
AH: "MLS was a great choice for me and my family. Every Latin American player dreams of playing in Mexico or in Europe, and I'm no exception. But honestly, I'm very happy in Chicago. Coming to the Fire was the best choice for me at the moment. I wanted to join a winning team."
DG: How have you adapted to your new surroundings?
AH: "Since I arrived in Chicago everyone has welcomed me with open arms. My teammates, the coaching staff and the media have been really nice to me. That meant the world to me. From the start I made it clear to Coach and my teammates that I wasn't here because of the money. I came here to work hard and make a difference on the team."
DG: Do you miss the stadium ambiance, like back home?
AH: "I think it's nicer here, because the people are more respectful. The American fan has a lot of respect towards the rival team and all they want is to enjoy the game. Contrary to what happens at our stadiums back home, where there riots and fights break out all the time, here the people just want to have fun. It's peaceful and nicer. I like it a lot."
DG: What did you know about MLS before you arrived at the Fire?
AH: "Prior to coming here I had talked to Mauricio Wright, who played for the Revolution. He gave me very good advise and told me I needed to believe in myself in order to succeed. He said that soccer here was very fast-paced and that it was a one-touch or two-touch game, whereas in Costa Rica it's much slower. That's been the biggest difference here-the style."
DG: So would you say that the MLS style is more European, and Costa Rican soccer is more Latin?
AH: "Yes, that's pretty accurate."
DG: Which style do you prefer?
AH: "That depends on the moment and on the play. I can adapt to either style."
DG: But do you prefer fast-paced soccer or "pretty" soccer, where you can showcase your skills?
AH: "That depends on my rival. I do think it's important that soccer fans should be treated to great 'footballing' and pretty soccer, that's why they attend games."
DG: Where do you see yourself in a few years in MLS?
AH: "That depends on my rival. However, I do think it's important for fans to be treated to quality soccer, that's why they attend games."