Facing Red Bull might feel weird for Lindpere but loyalties lie in Chicago

Fire midfielder talks first match against former team, gaining steam from Estonia appearance

Joel Lindpere

Photo Credit: 
Brian Kersey Chicago Fire

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Fire midfielder Joel Lindpere admits that Sunday’s game against the New York Red Bulls will feel a little weird.

That’s because despite a 16-year professional career that’s seen him play in his native Estonia, Norway, Bulgaria and the U.S. he’s never actually gone up against a former team.

“This is a new feeling for me,” Lindpere told Chicago-Fire.com Wednesday. “Its excitement but it’s a strange feeling. It’s happening and it feels a little weird.”

Lindpere came to MLS with New York in 2010 and was part of a new wave of players that helped open the state-of-the-art Red Bull Arena that year.

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He quickly wrote his name in the club’s lore by scoring the only goal in the team’s 1-0 home opening win over the Fire that March and would go on to miss just one MLS regular season and playoff game over his three years in New York.

While he’ll likely have a friendly handshake with the likes of Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill on Sunday, the Estonian international made no bones about where his loyalties are heading into the match.

“It will be good to see my old teammates on Sunday but I’m part of the Fire now. This is my club.”

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Should he appear vs. his former team on Sunday, it will mark the 100th MLS regular season match of his career.

International Absence

Lindpere will hope to step back into the Fire lineup for the first time since the team’s 1-0 home opening defeat on March 9 to New England.  

Lindpere was an unused sub as the team opted for a more defensive posture in a scoreless draw at Sporting KC on March 16 and then missed the team’s disappointing 4-1 loss to Chivas USA after being called up for Estonia’s World Cup qualifying matches at Holland and against Andorra.

He came on as a substitute at attacking midfield in both matches and tallied the icing goal in his country’s 2-0 home victory over Andorra.

“It was good that I got minutes in both games. With the national team we have many young guys that step in well and they need to get some time too. I was lucky to also score and I was playing as an attacking midfielder or a shallow striker in both games. I really love that position and I wish I could score two but one is enough.”

Still, Lindpere lamented the defeat back in Chicago and pointed to the tough international and injury absences for the setback.

“We are one team and we have many players,” he said. “Coaches put a team out and they see how to go against every different opponent. I know that I was away and we lost but it’s not a one-man game. It’s a team sport, there were other guys missing for international duty and some guys were injured.”

As reported on Tuesday, the team could be boosted by the return of veterans Logan Pause and Arne Friedrich who haven’t played a part to start the season after experiencing injuries just before the March 3 opener at LA.

“Chicago had a great season last year with so many wins in a row. We have guys coming back now that can help us. We just need to stick together and we won’t be without a win. We keep practicing and working and the results always come.”