BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Chris Rolfe has changed since his first run with the Chicago Fire.
He has better balance in his life after spending three years in Denmark, he explained, and that will make this stay more enjoyable. While his commitment to the team is the same as it was during his first five years with the club, his life is different.
“I was so strict and focused when I was here the first time,” Rolfe told MLSsoccer.com. “I realized, being in Denmark, there’s a balance between personal life and professional life. It’s going to be easier to manage that this time.”
But there are certain things the 29-year-old forward hopes stay the same, and his success against the Columbus Crew is one of them.
The Kettering, Ohio, native scored six goals and notched three assists in 15 games against the Crew during his first five years with the Fire.
The last time the Fire played the Crew, they lost 2-1 without both Sebastián Grazzini and Rolfe, who missed his first six weeks with the club with a sprained ankle. Both will be ready to go on Saturday in the rematch (8:30 pm ET; watch LIVE online).
“I think we came out kind of flat in that game,” Rolfe said. “It’s one of the themes of the season, we need to come out ready from the beginning.”
He’s still gaining match fitness and sharpness, but he said he’s ready to start. Fire head coach Frank Klopas hedged when asked if Rolfe was ready to go from the whistle.
“He looks better,” Klopas said of Rolfe’s effort last weekend against New York. “He came in and he changed the game, I think he had an impact in the game. You can just see that his sharpness isn’t there where it should be, but he’s working hard, and I think with games and with minutes, he’s going to get sharper.”
After debuting in a 2-0 loss to New England before the international break, Rolfe came on in the 62nd minute to provide an offensive spark in the Fire’s 3-1 win over New York, scoring a goal and almost notching an assist.
Rolfe said he’s still learning about his teammates’ tendencies and styles, but he appeared comfortable on Sunday. Forward Dominic Oduro almost benefited from Rolfe’s play when his newly acquired strike partner found him open with a through ball. Oduro’s shot crossed the line but wasn’t called a goal.
“He’s a veteran when it comes to playing in this league,” the 26-year-old Ghanaian told MLSsoccer.com. “I get a lot of good feedback from him in terms of where to make runs. He’s more of a teacher on the field, which I really like.”
The Fire hope they can carry over that spark from that emphatic victory on Sunday, their first multi-goal win.
They know Rolfe had a lot to with it.
“Having him on the field is just amazing,” Oduro said. “He can play through balls just like Patrick [Nyarko]. We appreciate him, and we hope something positive comes out of it [Saturday].”