Carlos Bocanegra

Livin' la vida 'Boca'

five alone in 2004 -- for the Red, White and Blue, wooing 'football' fans across the globe and scoring four goals along the way.

He was certainly convincing in London, where Bocanegra helped Fulham finish among the top 10 teams in his European debut. But the two-time MLS Defender of the Year has a lot more in store. On Sunday, as part of a major international doubleheader featuring the U.S. vs. Poland and the Chicago Fire vs. the New England Revolution, Bocanegra & Company will start off the party at 6 p.m. CT from Soldier Field, with the Fire hosting the Revs immediately following the friendly in an important Eastern Conference battle. How are you doing? What's it like to be back in the Windy City?

Carlos Bocanegra: I'm doing great. It's good to be back here.

CF: Tell me a little bit about your experience in Europe. Was your first season at Fulham what you expected?

CB: Yeah it was fun over there. It's obviously a different league. But the guys took me in quite nicely. It exceeded my expectations. I thought I was going to be a little bit outcast but I felt pretty comfortable over there. I'm excited to go back.

CF: Has your experience in England changed you, either personally or professionally?

CB: It's pretty neat that I get to live in another country's culture and experience day in and day out something outside of the United States. That's pretty cool. On the field, it's pretty neat because every game is so big and the points matter with the relegation. You don't necessarily prepare differently, but the crowds are so big and it's just very exciting.

CF: Was it difficult to adjust to a different culture?

CB: Not really. Everything is closed on Sundays, though, like supermarkets and stuff like that. Washers and dryers and refrigerators are a bit smaller but other than that it's not too bad.

CF: How long will it be before you rejoin Fulham?

CB: We have to go back pretty soon, in about a week or two.

CF: The U.S. national team has been impressive this year, and had a particularly good showing recently against Grenada. How would you grade the team right now?

CB: The team is doing fine. We're going to be together pretty much the whole summer, with a few weeks off here and there. But we're excited to be at this stage. We're growing together as a team and new guys are coming in and out, but I think we're doing alright.

CF: More than 35,000 people are expected to attend Sunday's doubleheader at Soldier Field. Are you excited about that?

CB: I really am looking forward to it. It'll be nice to play at Soldier Field again in front of a large crowd. I know there's a big Polish population over here. We played them in Poland this year already and they've got a pretty good team. It'll be nice to have them in Chicago again.

CF: In what ways will the squad need to prepare against Poland?

CB: We'll they're a European team so it'll be a pretty physical match. They're currently in their pre-season so all their club guys are going to be decently fit. But in terms of preparing for the match, I don't think we're going to be doing anything too different. We have to come out and approach it like any other game, and that's to win.

CF: What are some of your plans while you're in town?

CB: We'll see, but I definitely want to see some old friends and catch up with my former Fire teammates.