Halfway Through Pt. 2
De los Cobos was also candid about Julio Martinez, a player he coached during his time with the Salvadoran national team and one he brought with him to the Fire earlier this year.
“Julio is a very professional player and I brought him here because I had belief in him. The truth is that he had trouble adapting to the characteristics of this league. He tried because he’s a professional but he couldn’t make it. I have a big commitment to this team and for that reason I made the decision to release Julio and bring in another player. I didn’t feel good about it because I’m close with him and I brought him here but I understand that sometimes we need to make decisions that are uncomfortable in order to help the team.”
The player replacing Martinez on the Fire’s senior roster is well known Mexican international striker Nery Castillo, who the club tagged as a Designated Player. De los Cobos will expect the former Olympiakos striker to bolster a Fire offense that has trouble creating many chances and finishing those they have produced.
“We have the opportunity to strengthen our team with the addition of Nery. I’m sure he’ll make a good impact with the fans, not only with the Mexicans fan but all Fire fans. The most important thing though is his performance on the field. I think his characteristics as a player can help our team in the attack and in finishing chances. Maybe we can bring in another player – we are looking at more that can help us.”
The current 12-day break the Fire are in the midst of couldn’t have come at a better time as they look to heal before taking on two of the league’s top teams in the Los Angeles Galaxy and New York Red Bulls in consecutive weeks.
“The break is good to give us time for more recovery for injured players. It’s almost like another World Cup break -- we have almost two weeks to get the majority of the roster healthy before going up against the Galaxy. Playing against the best team in the league is good for us coming on the heels of getting guys healthy. We’ll need to play with motivation when we go to Los Angeles. That situation needs to excite us and put trust in ourselves for both games against the Galaxy and Red Bulls.”
Staring at the possibility of missing the playoffs for only the second time in the club’s history, de los Cobos is confident of his team’s ability to make up the five-point gap they currently face and qualify for the playoffs in the season’s second half.
“In the second half of the season with health, with new additions and with more understanding between the players I think we have the opportunity to improve in all areas of our team and this means improving to get more points than the first half. I see a good future for this team because it’s a young one and even though we don’t have the amount of points we want, they’re playing well overall.”
Follow Chicago Fire Team Writer Jeff Crandall on Twitter @JefeCrandall.