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Burning Questions

16 January 7:01 am

In this edition of Burning Questions, we sat down with the Fire’s second year midfielder/defender Tony Walls. Hailing from Wauwatosa, Wis., Tony was selected in the third round of the 2012 MLS Supplemental Draft after an impressive collegiate career at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay where he scored 18 goals and added 11 assists over 75 appearances.

The former Fire PDL player was one of only four players to start all 10 of the Fire’s 2012 MLS Reserve League matches and featured in both of the Fire’s international friendlies in 2012 against the English Premier League’s Aston Villa FC and Liga MX side Club Santos Laguna. Tony recently took the time to answer our Burning Questions about the Walls family soccer dynasty, life in the rookie crib and his impeccable fashion sense.

Always on the Inside: Your sister Cara plays soccer at the University of Wisconsin. How do you feel about her following in your footsteps and how often do you get to see her play?

Tony Walls: It makes me really proud. I try to go up as often as I can. I think I caught about three games last year. She’s doing really well. Last season they received an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament and she got second team All-Big Ten with 10 goals, so it makes me really proud to see my little sibling doing well.

AOTI: Last season you lived with fellow rookies Hunter Jumper and Austin Berry. Did you all split the housework? Did you have a chore chart?

TW: We split it, but we didn’t have a chore chart. If something needed to be done, we just did it. We weren’t too messy, we are all pretty reasonable. They were good roommates. They were respectful of my belongings and they’re good guys, so we got along really well so it was a good situation.

AOTI: You cut off your ‘dreads. What went into the decision to make the change and how long had you been considering it?

TW: I had been considering it for about three weeks. I went back to visit school and an old teammate cuts my hair, and I just thought it was time. They were too high maintenance and I had them for about four years so I figured I could use the change.

AOTI: How does it feel?

TW: It’s a little cold. I have to get my winter hat selection out.

AOTI: Last book you read in its entirety?

TW: It’s called “The Inheritance of Loss” by Kiran Desai. I would recommend it. It’s good.

AOTI: Current celebrity crush?

TW: Alex Morgan.

AOTI: What fashion trend did you rock back in the day that you’d be embarrassed to wear now?

TW: Nothing. I’ve always been fashionable.

AOTI: What was the best part of being a Fire rookie?

TW: I think the team in general is a pretty tight-knit group. The older guys are really professional but at the same time they actually care about us as people, and we get along very well.

AOTI: [Tony was rockin’ a UVA soccer shirt during the interview] You and Hunter recently traded T-shirts. Was it a two-way trade or was it a three-way trade with Austin? How did it go down?

TW: It was just the two of us. I think Austin was out of time at the time but we’re definitely going to have to get him involved. I think I just said, “Yo, you want to trade T-shirts? I’ll give you one of my Green Bay ones for one of your Virginia ones,” and Hunter said, “Sure.”

02 January 11:14 am

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”.


Gonzalo and Rusti married December 15

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.


Gonzalo's not a fan of John C. Reilly

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.

 

 

 

06 December 11:32 am

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.

13 November 11:21 am

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.

 

24 October 12:20 pm

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.

17 October 8:47 am

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.

09 October 11:27 am

In this edition of Burning Questions we sat down with rookie defender Austin Berry. Since being drafted in the first round ( 9th overall) of the 2012 MLS SuperDraft, Austin has become a mainstay in the Chicago Fire defense, starting 26 consecutive matches for the Men in Red and scoring three goals along the way to help the Fire secure their first playoff berth since 2009. The Rookie of the Year front-runner from Cincinnati, Ohio, Austin was a standout at the University of Louisville where he helped the Cardinals to their first ever NCAA National Championship appearance in 2010. Austin took the time to answer our Burning Questions about Berry-themed nicknames, his prowess on the basketball court and the Berry family Halloween tradition.
 
Always on the Inside:
What is the worst Berry themed nickname you’ve ever had?
 
Austin Berry: The current one that Arne [Friedrich] has given me, “Jerry Berry.” The origin is unknown, so is the spelling.
 
AOTI: The Irish Harmonica champion is also named Austin Berry. Do you play any musical instruments?
 
Jake Bronowski, Massage Therapist: Is there a difference between a regular harmonica and an Irish harmonica?
 
AB: Maybe theirs goes up and down. Instead of left and right, they go up and down. But no, I don’t play any instruments. Absolute no.
 
AOTI: You lettered in basketball from 2003-2005 at Summit Country Day. Can you still ball?
 
AB: I’m an awful basketball player. I just played for fun. I had no jump shot. I was a defensive specialist. I was in there for rebounds and defending. But I had fun. It was fun because my junior year, my last year, five of the starters from the soccer team were the five starters for the basketball team. It was something that I did personally to stay in shape between club soccer seasons.
 
AOTI: In an era of fluorescent cleats, you rock white ones on game days. Why is that?
 
AB: Those are the ones that have metal studs. And because it’s classy.
 
AOTI: You haven’t grown your goatee out in a while. Are you mellowing as you get older?
 
AB: I can’t really grown facial hair. The goatee takes me a good four weeks before it actually comes in and it’s not even a good one at that. So when it comes out, it’s just me being too lazy to shave for a month.
 
AOTI: What are you going to be for Halloween this year?
 
AB: I’m not big on dressing up, I’m just big on candy. As long as I get enough candy, I don’t need to celebrate it. I love candy. Mambas and Shock Tarts are my favorite.
 
AOTI: What’s the best Halloween costume you’ve ever had?
 
AB: I know the worst ever Halloween costume is my parents had a tradition of dressing their kids up as a purple grape and attaching a bunch of purple balloons to you so you were a grape. That was always one of our Halloween costumes and it was awful. At a certain age, we all had our purple grape stage. It was young, before we could make decisions for ourselves.
 
AOTI: What do you make for dinner if you’re looking to impress Martha Stewart who is stopping by the rookie crib?
 
AB: If I was impressing her, I would order delivery, put it in the oven then take it out. But I like making Teriyaki salmon with stir fry.
 
AOTI: What’s the theme song for the “Austin Berry: Rookie Year” reality show?
 
AB: “Sail” by AWOLNATION.

26 September 12:30 pm

In this edition of Burning Questions we sat down with forward Sherjill MacDonald. Since joining the Fire on July 24, the Dutch striker has scored two goals and tallied three assists, helping set up a battle for first place against Sporting Kansas City on Friday, Sept. 28 at 7:30 p.m. CT on the NBC Sports Network. Sherjill took the time to answer our Burning Questions about how he spends his time in Chicago, the difference between European and American fashion and just how many people mispronounce his name.  

Always on the Inside: You’ve been in Chicago now for a few months. How are you liking it?

Sherjill MacDonald: I love it. I love the restaurants; my favorite of the moment is an Italian restaurant called Scoozi! It’s close to my house so I go there a lot. I’ve been to the Hancock Center and eaten upstairs on the 95th floor, so that was fantastic. I have an apartment in River North. I love it. It’s a quiet neighborhood, it’s nice for dogs, so I like to walk the dog. It seems like a dog-friendly neighborhood.

WATCH: MacDonald equalizes vs. Montreal

 

AOTI: What kind of dog do you have?

SM: She is a Chihuahua mixed with a French Bulldog. Her name is Nala, from the Lion King.

AOTI: You’re pretty active on Twitter. What do you like about it?

SM: I like to talk to the fans. The last game I traded a fan that had made a banner for me with a jersey, so I like to do those kind of things. Sometimes I give away shoes to the fans; it helps to keep in touch with the fans.

AOTI: You’re a pretty stylish guy. What is the main difference between European and American fashion style?

SM: I’ve noticed that everybody wears running shoes, like downtown, so now I also do it. I think it’s an American thing because the distances are a little bit further. I’ve sometimes seen people wear suits with running shoes. It’s a lot of people.

AOTI: Who do you think are the best and worst dressed guys on the team?

SM: I like everybody’s style. It’s difficult to see in football because when you come to training, you dress comfortably.

Editor’s Note: During the interview, Daniel Paladini declared that Hunter Jumper was the worst dressed player on the team because he favors Polo Ralph Lauren. This editor does not agree with the views and statements of Daniel Paladini.

AOTI: What percentage of people in Chicago mispronounce your name and what’s the worst pronunciation you’ve heard?

SM: I think 80-85 percent. The worst I’ve heard is “Sheryl,” like the girls name.

AOTI: What do you like to do on a typical day off?

SM: Normal things. I like to go into the city with my girlfriend, do a little shopping. I like to walk the dog. Sometimes we stay outside for two hours walking the dog, especially when there is good weather. We like to enjoy the weather.

I also watch all kinds of television series and all kinds of movies. I watch a lot of movies; sometimes I watch like five movies a day. I’m a movie freak. “Gladiator” is one of my favorites.

AOTI: Who is your roommate on the road?

SM: Last time it was Wells Thompson. He’s a very good roommate. He sleeps very early but it’s good for me. It was a good example for me so I also sleep early. He’s a nice guy, a very gentle guy so I like him.

AOTI: One of the things that has helped endear you to fans is your passion on the field. Is your on-field persona similar to your off-field persona?

SM: Off the field I’m not emotional, not the same as on the field but sometimes I have to keep my emotions more to myself. I just have to control them sometimes on the pitch. I’m working on it; some people like it, some people don’t like it. Personally I don’t like it. I have to be more focused.

AOTI: FIFA 13 was recently released. Which team and difficulty level do you usually use? If we had a team FIFA 13 tournament, where would you rank?

SM: I love FIFA. I’m going to get it. I play with Chelsea on the highest difficulty level. I think I would be maybe first or second on the team. Sean [Johnson] would maybe be first. Sean is very good. 

 

20 September 11:45 am

In this edition of Burning Questions we sat down with defender Jalil Anibaba. Now in his second season with the Fire, Jalil has put together a solid sophomore season, starting 26 of his 27 appearances. An integral part of a solid Fire defense, he has also contributed on the offensive side, scoring one goal and adding one assist. A native of Davis, Calif., Jalil was selected ninth overall in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft. Jalil took the time to answer our Burning Questions about his hidden talents, his favorite birthday memory and what it’s like to own canaries.
 
Always on the Inside: You were named the Gatorade California Player of the Year for Soccer in 2006-07. What’s your favorite Gatorade flavor?
 
Jalil Anibaba: Probably Glacier Freeze. Light blue.
 
AOTI: What is the most embarrassing song on your iPod?

JA: Probably a song of myself. I wouldn’t say I sing a lot but it’s a hobby of mine.

AOTI: Are you going to make us a mix tape?
 
JA: No. Definitely not. That’s why it’s one of the most embarrassing things on my iPod.

AOTI: Who plays Jalil Anibaba in the Jalil Anibaba movie?

JA: Probably one of my brothers because they know me so well, they’d be able to portray my character in the best light.
 
AOTI: Your brother Jammil and yourself look remarkably alike. How often do people confuse the two of you and have you ever used your similar looks to trick people?
 
JA: We’ve never used our similar looks to deceive people on purpose. In Chicago we get confused for each other pretty often. It happens a lot up in the Stadium Club after games but it’s great having my brother here for support. It’s awesome.
 
AOTI: Your birthday, which is on October 19, is almost exactly one month away. What’s your favorite birthday memory?
 
JA: I would say being back in Davis when I was younger, in my teenage years and before that. My birthdays were always special because they were times when the whole family was together. My grandmother would always come and make my favorite cake, Lemon Pound Cake. We would just have dinner together, so they were great times and great experiences.
 
AOTI: Last year you put together a very solid rookie season, starting 27 of 29 matches and registering three goals (one of which became the team's Goal of the Year) and one assist. This year the Fire have another rookie defender, Austin Berry, who is putting together similar numbers. Do you consider him your protégé and have you ever called him Jalil Jr.? What do you think of him following in your footsteps?
 
JA: No, I definitely don’t think of Austin as a Jalil protégé. Simply because I’m still a young player and I’m still trying to prove myself day in and day out. I think Austin has done a tremendous job learning on the curve, and that’s part of being a rookie. His future is definitely bright.
 
AOTI: What’s a typical day like in the life of Jalil Anibaba?
 
JA: I wake up for training, come to the stadium in the morning, and put in my day’s work as far as my profession is concerned.

Once I leave the stadium, the day is pretty slow. I like to get a nap in after training and then pretty much after the nap, it’s all about getting ready for the next day, so eating well, resting, watching either a movie or a couple of TV shows and just being ready for the next day.
 
AOTI: What TV shows do you like?

JA: There are a couple series that I’ve been intrigued with lately. I’m happy that season five of “Sons of Anarchy” started again; that’s one of my top choices. I was into “Damages” but that show is done now. I’m a big fan of “Suits.” With time on my hands I like to indulge in different TV series to entertain myself.

Reality TV is something that me and my brother and some of my friends like to get into. We watch “Love & Hip Hop” and “The Voice” to keep things light hearted.”
 
AOTI: Do you have any hidden talents?
 
JA: When I was young I used to skateboard and I used to yo-yo. I’m a little rusty but maybe I could still do some tricks.
 
AOTI: Your dad raises canaries. What’s the most interesting thing about canaries?
 
JA: What’s interesting about them is that the males sing, and they sing beautifully. If you’re ever to come to my house back in Davis, you’ll definitely hear birds singing, and it’s a great, great sound.

06 September 12:32 pm

In this edition of Burning Questions we sat down with midfielder Patrick Nyarko. Now in his fifth season with the Fire, Patrick has scored three goals and leads the team with six assists. A native of Kumasi, Ghana, Patrick was a standout at Virginia Tech before he was drafted in the first round (7th overall) of the 2008 MLS SuperDraft. Patrick took the time to answer our Burning Questions about his table tennis prowess, his sneaker collection and what a typical day entails for him.

Always on the Inside: You’re often regarded as one of the best table tennis players on the team. How did you get to be so good?

Patrick Nyarko: I put in the work while I was growing up. It was such that if you played a game, it was a commercial table tennis table, so you  had to pay if you lost; you didn’t want to waste your lunch money. So you had to win by all means. If you didn’t get good you were going to lose all of your money.
 

 

WATCH: Nyarko Scores in the 1st minute vs. HOU

 

AOTI: Your bio in the media guide says your favorite thing to eat is soup. What kind of soup and where’s the best place to find it in Chicago?

PN: Peanut Butter soup. I’ve not found the best in Chicago. For really authentic soup you have to go back to Ghana so I haven’t really found anything close. I don’t really eat it. I don’t want to offend my mom.

AOTI: One of your strengths as a player is your speed. Are you fast in other aspects of life?

PN: I do eat pretty quickly. I’ve been in cars with some pretty crazy drivers like Dominic [Oduro], and I don’t think I drive as fast as him but I don’t like to drive slow.

I like to get things done quickly, if I have to. If you go in my apartment it’s really not clean because I don’t have to because I live alone, but if I actually have to I’ll get it done quickly.

AOTI: As a professional athlete you have a bit of a non-traditional schedule. What’s a typical day like for you after you leave Toyota Park?

PN: Once I go sit on my couch I’m stuck for the rest of the day. If I have to run errands and stuff I do it all before I go home. Even if it takes six hours, I’d like to get it done before I sit on the couch. I don’t know what’s wrong with the couch or where it came from, but I just cannot get off of it.

I usually watch a little TV, catch up on shows and world news. I like Tyler Perry shows like “Meet the Browns” and “House of Payne.” And I love “Two and a Half Men.” I’ve started watching every season.

AOTI: Are there other soccer teams or leagues that you follow?

PN: I’m a huge fan of Manchester United. I don’t miss an EPL game if I don’t have to. I’m really not huge into other leagues. I’ll watch Barcelona and I’ll watch Real Madrid play but I don’t watch the Italian league or Bundesliga. It’s very limited. I love the EPL.

AOTI: You’re a bit of a sneaker head. What got you interested in shoes and what’s your favorite pair that you own?

PN: As a kid I always loved sneakers but growing up in Africa we weren’t that well-off to get enough sneakers. I had one pair per year. When I came to the States for school and I got two pairs in college, it was like Christmas for me. I signed with adidas and I started getting all these sneakers. The love of sneakers grew after I signed with them. They make some great shoes.

The best pair I have are from adidas; they’re called Ransoms.

AOTI: You currently have three goals on the season. This is only your second multi-goal season after 2009 in which you scored four goals. To what do you attribute your offensive output this season?

PN: I think I’ve always had adequate offensive production, not in terms of goals but I led the team in assists for the last couple of years. I think this year I’m more comfortable. I’ve been working a lot with the coaching staff in terms of confidence in front of the goal and stuff like that. I know I still have a ways to go but I’m happy it’s imporving and hopefully by the end of the year I can have a couple more goals.

AOTI: Do you have any pre-game rituals?
PN: Not really. I just show up and I’m good to go.

AOTI: What is the best advice you have ever received?

PN: Always persevere. If you try once and you don’t succeed that doesn’t mean it’s the end. Just keep persisting. I’m very persistent in more ways than one.