BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – The Brazilian is back in the building.
Alex Monteiro de Lima practiced with the Chicago Fire on Tuesday for the first time since signing with the club back in April, and the team was happy to see him.
“A lot of the guys, not just me, were asking where he was,” Patrick Nyarko told MLSsoccer.com. “He’s unbelievable, and there was speculation that we were going to sign him in preseason.”
The creative midfielder – known simply as "Alex" – officially rejoined the Fire on Tuesday for the first time after training with the club during late January and early February.
The 22-year-old had gone back to Switzerland to finish out his season with Swiss second-division side FC Wohlen before signing with the Fire in on April 26. He will be available for selection for Chicago when the transfer window opens on June 27, and he's eager to get started.
“I went to preseason with the Fire, so I know most of the players,” Alex said through a translator after Tuesday’s practice. “Ever since, I’ve been following MLS from Switzerland.”
The Brazilian signed a six-month deal with the Fire after turning down offers in Switzerland and Dubai. His fellow countryman and former teammate at FC Wohlen, Montreal midfielder Felipe Martins, has started all 13 games for the Impact this season.
“I’ve been keeping in touch with [Felipe] and I’m realizing that MLS is growing a lot,” Alex said.
With uncertainty surrounding Sebastián Grazzini’s contract and Chris Rolfe’s recent injury struggles, head coach Frank Klopas’ ability to find a stable player to play the “second striker” position has been anything but a sure thing. Alex assures that he can fill that role or play on the left side of the midfield.
“He’s a brilliant player, somewhat similar to Sebastián, but a little younger,” Nyarko said. “He’s full of energy when he’s fit. He’s going to be a huge addition to our team."