A New Approach

First-year Chicago Fire strength and conditioning coach Tony Jouaux stands by the following assessment from Real Madrid head coach Jose Mourinho:

"Mourinho always says that a pianist doesn't run around the piano or do a push-up with his finger tips to be the greatest pianist -- he plays a piano," Jouaux said. "That's the same for soccer."

The 25-year-old Jouaux has taken a fitness approach that resonates with just about any player on the pitch, and that is a program involving the soccer ball in everything the Fire players do.

"If I remember, only one practice in Charleston was without the ball," Fire midfielder and defender Gonzalo Segares said of the team's preseason trip to South Carolina. "Other than that, every other fitness day is with the ball. As a soccer player, you enjoy that more than just going around in circles on the field. I think it makes it more interesting for us."

There is not a clear-cut right answer toward the proper methods of training a professional soccer team, but Jouaux has struck a chord with his approach for the Fire. Many Fire players raved about Jouaux's routine and schedule during the preseason. Now, the key for Jouaux and Chicago (1-0-1) is maintaining a high work rate and a healthy roster over the course of a 34-game regular season.

"He really believes in these phases of where we are in the season, we're doing different stuff," Fire captain Logan Pause said. "So in the middle of the summer, when the legs are exhausted and you're normally fatigued, he has a different plan to cater to guys during that time. It's very individual-specific. It's not something you see overnight. It's one of those things that will make our team better because it'll keep guys healthy, and we'll be hopefully one of the fittest teams in the league."

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