It has been four months since the Chicago Fire made midfielder Scott Buete and defender Leonard Griffin its first two selections in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft. Since January, the talented duo has gone through the typical highs and lows of most rookies while learning to adjust to life in the pros after standout collegiate careers. The future stars of the Fire recently sat down with www.Chicago-Fire.com's Rebecca Berry to talk about their experiences thus far, the adjustment to the professional game and their meetings on the field before they were teammates.
1. What were your expectations of playing in MLS and with the Fire when you were drafted? Have those expectations been met at all yet?
Griffin: I came in wanting to play, but I knew it was going to be tough. I have played, but you have your ups and downs, so I'm just trying to find my level of consistency.
Buete: It was pretty much the same for me. I didn't know if I would play right off the bat when I came in, but I just wanted to work at that, and I'm still working on that. It's like Leo said, you just try to stay consistent in practice and try to earn a spot in the starting lineup.
2. What have your experiences been like so far?
Griffin: At first it was kind of hectic trying to settle in. We were traveling a lot and we didn't have a place to live, we were living out of a hotel. But now we've got our own place and we're settled in, and we've gotten to hang out with the guys a lot more, so it's been really good.
Buete: It was kind of crazy the first couple of months, when you didn't really know the guys or the coaches or anyone with the Fire. Now as each game goes by, you start to get more comfortable and find your own comfort level.
3. Was it hard to fit in with a group of guys that have already been playing together? How did you adjust?
Griffin: Not really, I think everyone in the organization does a really good job of making us feel comfortable and helping us fit in, so I think that's helped out a lot.
4. Are there any team members in particular that you've learned a lot from so far? Buete: I think collectively the team is really good at that. I think Chris Armas most of all, being the captain, knowing that we're rookies and that we're still struggling to get comfortable and trying to be consistent. I think he's good every day in practice at guiding us and helping us out.
Griffin: I'd agree. A lot of the older guys, like C.J. Brown, Ante [Razov] and the guys that have been around have kind of taken us under their wing, trying to show us the ropes and what needs to go on at the professional level in soccer.
5. How did you feel when you played in your first MLS game?
Leonard: I was very nervous at first, but really excited at the same time.
6. What are some goals and expectations you have for the rest of the season?
Buete: I think in the long-term, to eventually break into the lineup, and in the short-term, to start playing better everyday in practice. Right now I'm just trying to improve my game and get more comfortable because I still feel like I'm not really at the level that I need to be. I know I'm with a great bunch of guys, so I know I just need to relax and play.
Griffin: I just want to continue to develop my level of consistency in training so that helps when I get into the games, so I can hopefully break into the starting lineup.
7. Had you ever played against each other previously while you were in college? Did you each know who the other was when you were drafted?
Buete: Yeah, we actually played against each other in the Final Four and they [Griffin's UCLA Bruins] won because they got a penalty kick. But yeah, we'd gotten to know each other the last two years of college, so it was kind of weird to be drafted together and now we're playing together.
Griffin: I hated him at first because he was from Maryland! But now that we've gotten to live with each other, we've gotten to know each other a lot better. I still have the upper hand, though, because I've got the National Championship from that 2002 year, and Scott was there twice and never got it.
Buete: (laughing) You hear that? He's too cocky.
8. How do you like the city of Chicago so far? What are your favorite and least favorite things about it?
Buete: I definitely hate the traffic. I can't stand the traffic, and I'm starting to go insane.
Griffin: I love that there's so much to do here. If you're sitting around, you can always find somewhere to go, like a good restaurant.
Buete: I like that everyone here is so outgoing. Everyone's going out all the time, and I love to go to Wrigley Field to Cubs games.
Rebecca Berry is a contributor to Chicago-Fire.com.