BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Jeff Larentowicz isn't the loudest player in the Chicago Fire locker room. His personality doesn't always lend itself to loud proclamations or bold speeches.
But Larentowicz, who wears the captain's armband with Logan Pause relegated to a bench role, is the only player in Chicago's starting lineup to come from the cusp of playoff elimination to an MLS Cup trophy, a feat which he accomplished with Colorado in 2010.
So to the Fire, who are two points out of the fifth and final postseason spot in the East, Larentowicz's words mean everything. And they're being heard more and more in Bridgeview.
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“The kind of things he's trying to achieve, the kind of message he's sending out there, you cannot help but listen to it just because he's been there, he knows how success comes about,” winger Patrick Nyarko told MLSsoccer.com. “It's evolved. He's grown comfortable on the team from the early days. He's someone I really, really respect.”
On opening day, Larentowicz was given the captain's armband for the Chicago's game against the LA Galaxy, and since then, he's been a leader for the club.
But even though he was the team's on-field skipper, he didn't feel like himself early in the season, when the Fire trudged to a 2-7-1 start.
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Since that time, Larentowicz and Chicago have regained their confidence, and the nine-year veteran's voice has become a more constant presence for the Fire.
“I wasn't totally comfortable at the beginning of the year just personally, it was nothing to do with anyone else,” he told MLSsoccer.com. “I've just kind of grown in confidence and felt more like myself as the year has gone on, playing better, the team is getting results. That affords you the ability to talk more I think, because then you're backing it up with something.”
Larentowicz still isn't outspoken, but he knows when to speak. Sometimes, that's more important.
“He picks his moments," Klopas told MLSsoccer.com. “I think he leads by example, where every day, his attitude is fantastic in training, and he's a winner. The guy leaves everything on the field for the team. He's just a great team player with a lot of experience in this league, international experience, so that part is good. He's not the most vocal guy, he'll pick his moments and he'll say things that he has to at the right moments.”
Anthony Zilis covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com.