Throughout preseason, your favorite Fire players will give you a first-hand, behind the scenes look at what actually goes down at training camp. The first installment is brought to you by Fire midfielder Daniel Paladini. Entering his third season with the Men in Red, Paladini hits the town of Ave Maria, Fla. for the annual steak cook off. Make sure to check www.Chicago-Fire.com and follow Paladini on Twitter at @PaladiniXI for all the action leading up to March 3.
Checking in from Ave Maria: Well we are about halfway through our first phase of preseason and things couldn't be going better. Legs are sore, bodies are in pain, but the coaches are getting the best out of the team. As we keep continuing to grind and sweat through the double-days, I promise you this, there is a much bigger plan taking place for the Chicago Fire this year. We played our first exhibition game against FGCU Sunday, which is another reason to be excited. It was nice to go out and kick someone else besides my teammates. Haha.
Off the pitch: Saturday was Ave Maria's annual steak cook-off! Having been fortunate enough to have been coming to Ave Maria for three years now, I knew exactly what Saturday was about. Basically we are in what you call a very, very small town outside Naples Fla. (think The Truman Show). Kids are out playing games, live music in the background, there’s perfect weather, and of course that good smelling steak cooking on the BBQ. And what do 30 or more guys do when they smell steak being cooked? Of course we will take over and invade their small town. But honestly, Saturday was great. Awesome food, good people, and just a great atmosphere to hang out in a little town called Ave Maria. Special thanks to the Mastandrea family for taking such good care of the coaching staff and players on this special night. Until next time, this is Daniel Paladini checking in from Ave Maria.
On how things are looking overall and what’s been happening down in Ave Maria, Fla.:
“It’s very exciting for us to get going after a long preseason. Ave Maria has been a fantastic place for us in past years this is where we get things going for our first phase. Three, four days into it, everyone is upbeat, the attitude from the players has been really good. Our main focus during the first phase, more than anything, is just to get a good base of aerobic fitness. We’re working with bigger spaces, bigger numbers and longer duration of time when we’re playing and we’re doing everything through soccer exercises, soccer specific exercises to build endurance through playing, instead of just running without the ball. So that’s the main focus in this first phase. We have a couple practice games that will give us an opportunity to evaluate some of the players, the picks and supplemental guys, that we have here, and really make some decisions and try to only bring players that we feel, not just to add roster spots but really to add guys, even in those supplemental or apprentice spots, that we feel in this environment, in one or two years, can be in a position to help the team. That’s mostly the focus in the first phase and obviously the second phase will get more into tactical work and stuff like that. The first phase here in Florida is more to get a good base of aerobic fitness so we can push the guys even more in the second phase. The third phase we’ll get more into playing and on a fitness level to play 90 minutes.”
On the situation of the left midfield position with the possible move of Alvaro Fernandez:
“Obviously we’re always going to be looking at different options but I do feel that within our group we have players that have the flexibility to play different spots. We have Alex that can play the wide spot. You have guys like Chris Rolfe who has played out wide at times, also with Wells Thompson. We’re always looking to see if there are opportunities to make our team better but we also feel that we have players with depth in our own team that have the flexibility to play in those spots. That’s why I think its important through this preseason, the six weeks that we have the opportunity through games and in training to put players in those roles and see how they gel with the guys. I do feel we have players that can play out there but if there are opportunities that come up within the league or outside we’re going to look at those too.”
On drafting Caleb Konstanski with the 68th overall pick in the 2013 MLS Supplemental Draft:
“We’ve seen IU play quite a few times. He was the captain of the national championship team and he brings a lot of leadership qualities. He’s a very good athlete. Obviously he needs work technically and with his feet and that’s one of the things we want to see as the game speeds up and see if in our training camp he can adapt to that. But he can play multiple roles. He’s played in the middle but also in the back and also out wide on the right because he’s a good athlete and a competitor. This will give us a good picture when we bring him in. he’s arriving today along with the other supplemental picks and will give us a good opportunity to see him in a much higher level and the speed of play is obviously different. We know the kid well, we’ve talked to his coach, seen him play a lot and the one thing is he’s a great athlete and a great competitor and it’ll be great to see in this environment how he’s able to adapt. That’s why this phase is important to have the opportunity to bring in and look at players and make decisions.”
On the midfield competition and how Logan Pause’s role has been affected by the new acquisitions:
“We felt that that was an area in the midfield that we needed to address and I think we brought some players that have a lot of experience and are very good players in this league. I think they bring something different but that’s why everyone is here in camp. We have six weeks now where we’ve brought quality players in but a lot is going to be decided by what takes place in the next six weeks. WE feel very good with the depth, the competition is very good and the players now, through these practice games, are really going to take the next steps. In these next six weeks, through training and through games, those decisions will be answered for all of us. Obviously, more than anything, the important thing is that we do have depth. Logan is a very good player but we also have other very good players in that spot that provide depth and competition and also have the flexibility to play different roles and positions on different parts of the field.
On the importance of a full preseason for the strike duo of Chris Rolfe and Sherjill MacDonald:
“It’s important. I think with the core group we come into it with a very good base with the additions that we made, I think with the guys that we added from within the league the transition is always much easier. When you have guys from the beginning now with six weeks is where you build a lot of continuity. It’s important, not only in the first phase but in the second phase, where we’ll get into a lot more playing and a lot more tactical work and developing understanding and chemistry, but to have the opportunity from the beginning to continue what we had towards the end of last season, I think that’s only going to make things better. I feel good that we have almost the whole group here together starting to work from day one, especially now when you look at last year to now, last year was nine weeks of preseason and this year its six. The first game is right around the corner so the continuity helps a lot.”
On which of the trialists and reserve players have impressed early on in training camp:
“It’s too early, it’s three, four days in. the one thing I can say is that I think everyone has come in, we provided the players with an offseason program with the goal for them to come back and report for day one because obviously they know that there are expectations and our goals are going to be higher, and so are theirs. So I think with that the sacrifices and the work you do and the preparation that you put in has got to increase. Everyone has come in where they should be based on what our fitness coach Tony [Jouaux] gave them in the offseason to work on. The guys are ready. The attitude has been fantastic. It’s early on. It’s three four days. It’s kind of hard for me to tell you right now. Everyone’s still going 100 miles per hour but it’s a long process and you’ll see more as the guys get heavy legs and a little more tired, now the opportunity where you’ll see from a mental standpoint who can focus and concentrate. That’s been the focus for us from day one that they understand that its’ a long process, it’s a long season and the work starts from day one. What you do every day is very important for us to be able to reach the goals that we set at the end of the year. We can’t let one day go by without a quality training session. We constantly push the guys, we constantly tell them that it’s very important that in every drill that we do that they’re focused and concentrated. Whether is 60 or 90 minutes, it has to be there in training because that’s where you get better. It’s not a light switch were you turn it on come game time. It’s a process through preseason. it’s a process thought the whole week. As a player, the confidence comes because you are prepared to play well. It’s early but I can tell you that everyone is very focused, determined, excited and very committed to give everything they have in order for us to reach our goals and that’s been fantastic. It’s early on but I know it’s going to be like that throughout the year because we brought in the kind of players who have a lot of good soccer qualities and are very good players but also have a tremendous attitude, and positive attitude, a winning mentality and more than anything they’re honored and proud to be part of this organization.”
On the opportunity for Corben Bone to train with Atletico Madrid and how his role changes compared to last year:
“I think a lot of times with players, he graduated from [Generation Adidas] status, sometimes there’s a lot of pressure on those players. It’s up to Corben. When you see him at practice, he’s a kid that has a lot of ability. He’s fast, technical, this or that, but that has to translate in a game. I’ve talked to him many times, myself and the other coaches, to give him a lot of encouragement and to be positive with him. He has to take the opportunities that he gets and make the best of them. He has to be the one to believe in himself and have the confidence because we believe in him. We’ve always worked with him, always tried to give him the confidence that he needs but maybe right now, graduating from Generation Adidas and not having all that pressure, maybe he’s going to come out and not have that pressure on him and with the opportunities can show the quality that he has as a player, the ones that we saw in him. When you do see him in training, he’s a player that could be a very good player in this league. Now that has got to translate into real games and he’s got to take advantage of the opportunities that he gets.”
On bringing in MLS veterans Jeff Larentowicz, Joel Lindpere and Maicon Santos and how they’re fitting in with the team:
“It’s early but I think they’ve come in and they’ve adopted and fit in well really well with the group. I think they’re very focused and guys that we knew what we were getting. Obviously they’re very good players and have been leaders on their teams and they’ve come in here and continued to work very hard in training sessions and earned their respect from that side from everyone else. They’re very good players and good characters. I think their ability to work very hard and give everything on the field and earn everyone’s respect, I think is important and that’s what they’ve done. The transition has been smooth and easy.”
In this edition of Burning Questions, we sat down with Fire left back Gonzalo Segares. A native of San Jose, Costa Rica, Gonzalo has been capped 19 times for Los Ticos. The club's Defender of the Year in 2007, Gonzalo returns in 2013 for his ninth season with the Men in Red. The newlywed took the time to answer our Burning Questions about wedding themed movies, his infamous sweet tooth and the worst actor in Hollywood.
Always on the Inside: You got married this past December. What is the best movie that features a wedding: “Wedding Crashers”, “The Wedding Singer”, “The Hangover” or “Bridesmaids”?
Gonzalo Segares: Definitely the first “Hangover”.
AOTI: It’s pretty well documented that you’re a fan of baked goods. If you could only choose to have one pastry for the rest of your life, what would you pick?
GS: Can it be chocolate? Chocolate bars. Like Crunch, Kit Kat or Snickers. I like chocolate with stuff in it, especially almonds or any kind of nut, except for peanuts.
AOTI: What do you miss most about Costa Rica?
GS: The weather. I love it here in Chicago during the summer but in the winter, I just hate the cold weather. Back home we only have two seasons, which is summer and winter, and the winter is only rainy. The temperature doesn’t change that much. The average is usually in the 70s or 80s.
AOTI: How often do you use the phrase “pura vida?”
GS: I use it a lot if I’m talking to Costa Ricans when I’m home. I don’t use it that often in Chicago because when the guys speak Spanish, it’s not part of their slang.
AOTI: You attended Virginia Commonwealth University with current Fire teammate Dominic Oduro. What’s one thing that people don’t know about Dom?
GS: He was very, very, very shy. And now all of a sudden, he’s not shy.
AOTI: Do you have any phobias?
GS: When it starts shaking on the plane, I definitely get nervous.
AOTI: Who is the worst actor in Hollywood?
GS: There are a lot of them. I would say maybe the guy that’s in movies with Will Ferrell. He usually has a mustache. He’s in the cartoon movie where he doesn’t want to be a bad guy anymore, “Wreck it Ralph”. In “Talladega Nights” he’s the friend and he’s also in “Step Brothers” with Will Ferrell. I think he’s very, very bad.
Editors Note: As Gonzalo provides very good clues, we have deducted that he is referring to John C. Reilly.
AOTI: You can invite any three people to dinner. Who receives an exclusive invitation?
GS: I would definitely invite Messi. And also Michael Jordan and President Obama.
In this edition of Burning Questions we sat down with Italian goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi. The former Inter Milan youth product earned a spot on the Fire roster after impressing the technical staff during preseason and started the first three games of the 2012, posting a shutout while helping the team to a 1-1-1 record. Prior to heading back for offseason in Milan, Paolo took the time to answer our Burning Questions about the worst American fashion trend, the best Italian restaurants in Chicago and his favorite MLS away city.
Always on the Inside: Favorite thing to do in the summer here in Chicago?
Paolo Tornaghi: It’s nice in the summer to go to the lake and the beach. I like to ride my bike on the bike path from Navy Pier to North Beach.
AOTI: Have you checked out any of the Italian restaurants here in Chicago? What’s the best one and how does it compare?
PT: There are a couple. One is Prosecco and one is Marcello. It’s like home.
AOTI: Do you cook? If so, what is your specialty?
PT: Not too much but I do cook. The easiest is pasta.
AOTI: You’re from Milan, which is considered one of the fashion capitals of the world. What’s your favorite place to shop?
PT: There’s the coast of Vittorio Emanuele. It’s a beautiful street with a lot of stores. It’s not very, very expensive but it’s nice.
AOTI: What is the worst American fashion trend?
PT: There are a lot but I think the shirts are too wide. They’re not fitted to the body.
AOTI: Which of your teammates is the best and worst dressed?
PT: I think Pavel Pardo is the best, because he has the European style. I don’t want to say a worst, I’m too respectful.
AOTI: You recently tweeted that you were having surgery on your finger. How’s the new finger?
PT: It’s heavier. There’s a lot of iron inside.
AOTI: What’s your favorite MLS away city that you visited this season?
PT: New York. It was my first time there. We went to Times Square and it was beautiful with all the lights.
When Austin Berry was officially declared the 2012 MLS Rookie of the Year, the Cincinnati, Ohio native became the third player in Fire history to win the award. Previously won by Carlos Bocanegra in 2000 and Damani Ralph in 2003, the Fire now hold the most Rookie of the Year honors in MLS history.
Here's a look at the Fire’s three Rookie of the Year winners.
Carlos Bocanegra - 2000
The Fire selected Carlos Bocanegra with the fourth pick in the 2000 MLS SuperDraft after a stellar collegiate career at UCLA. In his rookie season, Bocanegra started all 27 regular season matches in which he appeared, scoring one goal and adding one assist as the Fire reached MLS Cup, where they fell 1-0 to the Kansas City Wizards. A week later, the Fire defeated the Miami Fusion 2-1, winning the club's second Open Cup trophy in just two seasons, though Bocanegra was unable to play after seeing red in the semifinal.
Following his rookie season, Bocanegra was named the 2002 and 2003 MLS Defender of the Year while also making the MLS Best XI both years. He was twice named the club’s Defender of the Year in 2000 and 2003.
After four seasons in which he appeared in 87 regular season matches, Bocanegra made the move overseas and signed with English Premier League Side Fulham FC prior to the 2004 season.
Bocanegra spent four years with the Cottagers, appearing in over 100 matches and scoring eight goals. He then went on to play in France's Ligue 1 with Rennes and Saint-Étienne before moving to storied Scottish side Rangers FC.
Bocanegra earned his first cap for the U.S. Men's National Team on Dec. 9, 2001 and has since made 109 appearances for the Yanks. A two-time FIFA World Cup veteran, Alta Loma, Calif. native captained the 2010 U.S. squad that won their group for the first time since 1930. Though he picked up a hamstring injury in the recent friendly in Russia, Bocanegra is expected to return in time to lead the U.S. into the final round of 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifying on Feb. 6.
Now plying his trade with Spanish Segunda División side Racing Santander, Bocanegra recently started a multi-sport training center in southern California called CB3, which this year held its first MLS pre-combine training program that focused on soccer-specific speed and agility training. All four players that trained at CB3 prior to the MLS Combine were selected in the SuperDraft, including this year’s Rookie of the Year honoree, Austin Berry.
Damani Ralph - 2003
In 2003 the Fire selected MAC Hermann trophy finalist Damani Ralph out of the University of Connecticut with the 18th pick (second round) of the MLS SuperDraft.
In his first season with the Men in Red, the Jamaican international set the MLS Rookie record for goals in a season with 11 and tallied six assists while also picking up MLS Goal of the Year honors. The Fire would go on to win the 2003 Supporters' Shield and reach the MLS Cup Final, where the Men in Red fell 4-2 to the San Jose Earthquakes.
His sophomore season proved that it wasn’t beginner’s luck, as he posted similarly impressive stats, again scoring 11 goals and adding three assists in 26 matches.
After two seasons with the Fire, Ralph transferred to Russian Premier League Side FC Rubin Kazan, where he went on to appear in 25 games, scoring two goals in three seasons.
Ralph made his international debut for Jamaica in 2002, earning 18 caps and scoring one goal for the Reggae Boyz.
Unfortunately his career was prematurely ended by a series of knee injuries. Ralph returned to school where he finished his degree in Economics from the University of Connecticut. The 2003 MLS Rookie of the Year is now working as a sports agent, where he is able to stay connected to the game while utilizing his experiences as a player to bridge the gap between young Jamaican players who are looking to make the jump to MLS.
Austin Berry - 2012
Selected in the first round (ninth overall) of the 2012 MLS SuperDraft, the former Fire PDL player joined the Men in Red after a standout collegiate career. After overcoming a broken leg in 2009, Berry led the University of Louisville to the 2010 NCAA Men’s College Cup championship match and was named 2010 BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year.
Berry made his first game-day lineup March 24 and made his professional debut May 4 when he started against Chivas USA. Minutes after giving up a penalty kick, Berry maintained his composure and got on the end of a ball from Sebastian Grazzini, becoming just the third rookie in Fire history and the first since 1998 to score in a debut MLS appearance.
Since his debut, Berry played every minute of his 28 consecutive MLS Regular Season appearances, breaking the record of consecutive starts by a Fire rookie, previously held by Bocanegra. Berry anchored the Fire defense that held opponents to just 41 goals as the Men in Red went 17-11-6, qualifying for the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
A hard-nosed, blue collared player, Berry is sure to catch Jurgen Klinsmann’s eye and figure into the U.S. Men’s National Team picture in the coming years.
In this edition of Burning Questions we caught up with Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson. In his third season with the Men in Red, Johnson posted career-high numbers. In 31 regular season games, Sean went 16-10-5, had five shutouts and recorded a career-low 1.24 goals against average. The Lilburn, Ga. native made 108 saves in 2012, including a career-high ten saves against the Earthquakes July 28.
Sean’s play caught the eye of U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who recently called the Fire ‘keeper in for a friendly against Russia on Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 9:00 a.m. CT (ESPN2/ESPN3/Univision Deportes). Before heading east, Sean took the time to answer our burning questions about his prowess on the dance floor, his favorite Thanksgiving dish and which teammates he’d pick for a MLS basketball tournament.
Always on the Inside: There’s another elite athlete with the same name as you, Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson, who was a “Dancing With the Stars” champion. Are you a good dancer and how do you think you’d do on the show?
Sean Johnson: I’d be fantastic. My dance moves are nice. I’m pretty sure I’ve been compared to Chris Brown.
AOTI: What’s your favorite Thanksgiving food or tradition?
SJ: My mom makes a green bean casserole that is unbelievable.
AOTI: You lettered in basketball for three years at Brookwood High School. Can you still ball? Which of your current teammates would you choose if there is a MLS pickup basketball tournament?
SJ: Call me the Black Mamba. My starting five would be point guard, Corben [Bone]. Two guard, [Dan] Gargan. Three guard, we’ll go Jalil [Anibaba]. I’d play the fourth spot, and maybe Austin [Berry] could play the five. Cory [Gibbs] can be the sixth man off the bench and [Soccer Operations Coordinator] Alex Boler could be the coach.
AOTI: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
SJ: I’d be able to fly.
AOTI: You’re one of the best table tennis and FIFA players on the Fire roster. What’s one random thing youwant to work on so that you can best your teammates?
Jalil Anibaba: He’s No. 1 at everything.
SJ: I am THE best FIFA player on the team. In life my goal is to be No. 1 at everything I do.
AOTI: Main difference between Georgians and Chicagoans?
SJ: The pace of which they move. Chicago is so fast-paced that I feel like I’m being rushed by people in the city.
AOTI: Who plays you in the Sean Johnson movie?
SJ: Denzel Washington.
AOTI: What was the last movie you watched in theaters? And if you’re in a crowded theater, which armrests are yours?
SJ: The last movie I watched was “Argo.” And both armrests are mine.
It all comes down to Halloween. The Fire begin the quest for their second MLS Cup trophy on Wednesday, Oct. 31 when they welcome the Houston Dynamo to Toyota Park at 8:00 p.m. CT live on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and 97.5 ESPN Deportes.
The Daily Herald’s Orrin Schwarz spoke with two Fire legends, Jesse Marsch and Evan Whitfield about what the Fire need to do to succeed in the playoffs.
“They’ve got to find a way to get some momentum going,” said Marsch, now head coach of the Montreal Impact.
One player who is on a hot streak is midfielder Patrick Nyarko, whose blast against D.C. United is up for MLS Goal of the Week.
Nyarko told MLSsoccer.com, “I’ve never been a shooter…I’ve never scored such a goal.”
His newfound confidence will be huge for the Fire in the playoffs. “I can try it from anywhere,” said Nyarko. “It gives the defense something else to think about.”
Sports Illustrated’s Avi Creditor broke down the MLS Cup Playoff field and gave reasons that the Fire will and won’t win the MLS Cup.
An integral part of the team’s success this season, the center back duo Arne Friedrich and Austin Berry sat down with RedEye to discuss the bond that they’ve formed.
The two defenders went head-to-head to see who knew the other best.
One familiar face Wednesday night will be former Fire forward Calen Carr, albeit now as a member of the Dynamo. Carr spoke to the Houston Chronicle about overcoming his recent concussion and what he remembered most fondly about his time with the Fire.
It all comes down to Saturday. With one game remaining in the 2012 MLS Regular Season, the Fire host D.C. United Saturday, Oct. 27 at 3:00 p.m. CT (NBC Sports Network), the meat of the tripleheader sandwich.
While the Fire have clinched a spot in the post season, Saturday’s match is crucial for seeding purposes. With a victory, the Men in Red, currently in third place, will take sole possession of second place. With a loss, the Fire could find themselves as low as fifth place.
Though two-time German World Cup veteran Arne Friedrich is experiencing playoff soccer for the first time in his career, he understands the implications of Saturday’s match.
“Our one goal is to win the game,” said Friedrich.
One of the keys to victory for the Fire will be making sure to get the ball to forward Chris Rolfe. With teams now choosing to man-mark Rolfe, he told MLSsoccer.com that “It’s been a little bit more of a challenge finding the ball.”
Another key storyline for Saturday will be the battle between the Fire’s Austin Berry and D.C. United’s Nick DeLeon, two of the front-runners for the Rookie of the Year race. The former college teammates have been enjoying the campaigns put together by their respective clubs.
“I was dying laughing,” said Berry about D.C. United’s video in which DeLeon says, “I eat defenders for breakfast.”
Berry and his centerback partner Arne Friedrich both made Brian Straus and the Sporting News’ short list for the highly-anticipated year end awards.
With both head coach Frank Klopas and striker Sherjill MacDonald imploring fans to get in the stands early Saturday, ‘keeper Sean Johnson stopped by WGN Wednesday morning to discuss the importance of home field advantage at Toyota Park, so make sure to get in early and spur your Men in Red on to victory.
In this edition of Burning Questions we sat down with German World Cup veteran Arne Friedrich. This season, Arne has commanded the rock solid Fire defense in 22 matches, holding opponents to 40 goals. A native of Bad Oeynhausen, Germany, Arne has been capped 82 times for Germany, helping Die Mannschaft to matching third place finishes in the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cups. Arne took the time to answer our Burning Questions about his newfound cooking skills, what music he prefers and how often he throws a handstand.
Always on the Inside: You often talk about how much you like Chicago. Is there something you haven’t yet experienced?
Arne Friedrich: I’ve never been to a Bulls game. That’s what I’ve missed so far. I’m hoping I can see a game when the new season starts. So for me, there is so much exciting stuff to do in Chicago and I just recommend people to come here and visit the town. Especially in Europe and German, nobody knows about Chicago that much. The city doesn’t have the same reputation as New York, and it’s fantastic.
AOTI: Is there anything that Chicagoans do differently?
AF: Not really; when I came here, I didn’t expect that the city would be so clean. That was the first thing I noticed compared to New York because they’re always rivals. The city is so clean and there are so many parks, we have trees, so much stuff going on during the summer. We have the beach and downtown. Everything you need.
AOTI: There is a video from the German Women’s National Team’s recent visit to Toyota Park in which you do a handstand. Do you often do handstands?
AF: This is very nice! It’s good posture. I don’t know why I did that. I guess it’s the first time. I don’t know, it was just a joke and everybody is watching me. Nice! It’s not bad. I didn’t know that I could do that.
AOTI: So do you do yoga?
AF: I did it in Germany. But I guess everyone can do that. It’s a one-time thing.
AOTI: What are you going to be for Halloween?
AF: It's my first Halloween. We don't celebrate it in Germany, especially not in Berlin where I used to live. I'm absolutely excited. I saw that so many people dress their yard up and it looks so funny with the pumpkins and all the stuff. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing all the stuff.
AOTI: Are you planning on dressing up?
AF: I’m not sure, it depends on what my teammates are going to do. We’re going to talk about that.
AOTI: The number 23 is a big deal in Chicago. Who is better, Michael Jordan at soccer or Arne Friedrich at basketball?
AF: We should come together and try to prove it because I don’t know how he plays soccer. My basketball skills are, I don’t know, maybe average. Definitely we should try it.
AOTI: You gave Austin Berry the nickname “Jerry Berry”. Have you given anyone else a nickname? Do you have any nicknames yourself?
AF: I don’t have any nicknames. It’s always funny, I just call people something different. It’s always funny but I don’t want to tell that.
AOTI: In my Google search, I found that the ladies often refer to you as a prince. Do you know where that originated?
AF: What? No! Not even once! I’ve never seen that. Really? Wow. I didn’t know that.
AOTI: Your favorite musical genres are Pop and R&B. Who are your top three musical artists?
AF: I like Eminem. Not his nature maybe but I like his music. There’s so much good stuff. I usually like R&B. I like the group Hurts. And T.I., Papa Trey. There’s so much nice stuff. Music is nice. It’s good that we have music.
AOTI: What is your favorite food and what is your favorite restaurant?
AF: My favorite food is definitely the Italian cuisine. I also started to cook a little bit for myself. I’m a very bad cook, I have to concede that. But I just try to practice every day. Normally, two or three times a week, I go to Vapiano on Clark Street.
AOTI: What’s the one thing you want to be good at cooking? Is there a specialty you want to have?
AF: Not really. My problem is that I don’t work with spices. And this is the problem, it always tastes very plain. It might be healthy but it doesn't taste good.
AOTI: You have a time machine. Which era would you like to visit?
AF: I would like to go in the past when Jesus lived.
In this edition of Burning Questions we sat down with blazingly fast Ghanaian striker Dominic Oduro. Oduro joined the Men in Red from the Houston Dynamo in March 2011, quickly becoming a fan favorite. Becoming the first Fire player since 2004 to hit double-digit goals in a season, Dominic was named the club’s 2011 Most Valuable Player and also garnered Section 8 Chicago’s 2011 Supporter’s Player of the Year award. This year, Dominic has scored six goals and added three assists while appearing in 31 of the Fire’s 32 matches. Dominic took the time to answer our Burning Questions about where he prefers to get his coffee, his favorite TV shows and which MLS player he would race to settle the “Fastest Man in MLS” debate.
Always on the Inside: You graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a major in Sociology. Why did you choose that major and what was the most interesting class you took in college?
Dominic Oduro: I chose that because I was making bad grades in Economics, so I had to take the easy path. I also loved the fact that it dealt with social life, and that is one of my interests so I decided to get into it. The most interesting class I took was Sociology of Religion. It taught me about religion and how people pursue it, and I thought it was really cool.
AOTI: Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks?
DO: Dunkin. I want Dunkin to call me right now. I’ve been trying to Tweet them; I need some promotion from them. My regular order is a medium coffee with cream and sugar. And I love strawberry cream cheese with a plain bagel.
AOTI: Any scouting report on you focuses on your blazing speed. Are you fast in other aspects of your life?
DO: I have a fast car. I’m just the slowest when it comes to walking. I have the slowest pace ever when it comes to walking.
Editor’s Note: Dominic conducted the fastest interview in Burning Questions history with a time of 3 minutes and 56 seconds, blowing past his closest competitor, Hunter Jumper, who clocked in at 7 minutes and 2 seconds.
AOTI: What are you going to be for Halloween this year and what’s the best costume you’ve ever had?
DO: I’m thinking about being a baby. I’ll just put on a diaper and put a pacifier in my mouth, and just walk around like a baby. One time I was Morpheus from “The Matrix.” I really killed that costume.
AOTI: What is one fashion trend you used to wear but would be embarrassed to wear now?
DO: I used to wear baggy jeans. Looking back at it now, I just shake my head and think, “Why was I wearing that?”
AOTI: You just discovered an island. What do you name it?
DO: Freaky Dom Island.
AOTI: If you could live in any TV show or movie, which one would you choose?
DO: “Fringe.” It’s one of my favorite shows. I love it.
AOTI: What’s the most embarrassing song on your iPod?
DO: I’m very picky with my songs. I have one; I had Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” one time, and I was scratching my head as to why I put that on.
AOTI: What’s a typical day like in the life of Dominic Oduro?
DO: I sit on my couch and watch TV all day.
AOTI: What TV shows do you like?
DO: I like “Two and a Half Men.” I love that show. And “Fringe” and “Scandal.” I really like that one.
AOTI: Who is the one MLS player that you would like to race to finally put the “Fastest Man in MLS” debate to bed?
DO: [Colorado Rapids defender] Marvell Wynne. Period. Just put everything to bed.
AOTI: If the opportunity ever presented itself, would you challenge Usain Bolt?
DO: I would want to race him for the fun of it. I know I’m going to lose, so I can’t even think about beating Usain Bolt. But I would race him for the fun of it.