Bakary Soumaré spent time in France, Germany and Philadelphia, but thoughts of returning to Chicago never seemed to leave his consciousness.
A few months after Soumaré stated his desire to be traded, preferably to the club that drafted him in 2007, Chicago acquired his rights from the Philadelphia Union on Thursday. He'll be available for selection on Saturday when the Fire visit Real Salt Lake (9 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
“Overall, I’m very excited,” he told reporters on a conference call on Thursday. “It’s been a long two months in Philly, things didn’t work out the way I was hoping, but I’m very excited to be back in the club where I started – I really enjoyed my time in Chicago from 2007-2009 and I’m looking forward to gaining that success again.”
Soumaré admitted he was a little rusty during his first game of the season, which came two weeks ago against the Fire, but the club liked what it saw from the 27-year-old Mali international last weekend.
He'll suit up on Saturday after joining the team in Utah late Thursday night, but Fire president of soccer operations Javier Leon said he thinks he is a long shot to start.
Soumaré will compete for a starting center back spot almost immediately, and he'll likely push Jalil Anibaba to right back, a position that has been a revolving door this year. Soumaré said he'll be ready if Klopas calls upon him on Saturday.
“The good thing is I’ve had a strong three games together and I’ve actually started feeling better game after game," he said. "I’ve started getting my rhythm back and right now I’m close to top form. I’m very happy about that.”
The trade has produced speculation that Arne Friedrich, who has been out all season with hamstring and hip injuries, is on the cusp of retirement.
While the German center back's future is in doubt, Leon said that by no means does it infer that Friedrich is set to end his career.
“We haven't given up, so we'll see what happens,” Leon said. “We still have hope. He's a great guy. So the good thing with him is that he's never going to do anything to go through the motions. He's not about the money, it's about the fact that he wants to play.”