Veteran Leadership

Carr, Robinson take new role

Just over a week ago second year Fire head coach Carlos de
los Cobos named veteran midfielder Logan Pause as the club’s new captain. As
the longest tenured player on the current roster, the choice was an obvious one
and met almost entirely with praise.

With so many veteran players gone due to retirement or other
offseason moves, there is a sort of “coming of age”, “rise to the occasion”
mantra for two of the longer-serving Fire veterans. Behind Pause, both Calen
Carr and Dasan Robinson are the two most consecutively tenured players on the
current roster, having been with the club since being selected in the 2006
Super and Supplemental Drafts.

While Carr, 28, seems a tad younger than what his birth date
says, Robinson is certainly one of the youngest leaders on this squad at 26.  While both enter their sixth year with
the first team, the defender is closing in on a decade spent in Chicago, having
played for the PDL side from 2003-2005.

As both entered training camp last week, it was apparent they’ve
taken an understanding of the natural leadership role being taken on in 2011.

“It’s a role and a challenge that I formally accept,” said
Robinson. “I’ve been around, so I’ve learned and seen a lot – the good, the
bad, the happy, the sad. We won a championship in my first year so I know what
it feels like to be on great teams and I know how it feels to be on teams that
haven’t achieved what they thought they were going to. It puts me in a good
position to share my knowledge on and off the field and bring the things I’ve
learned to fruition.”

“It’s a different role,” added Carr. “I feel like I’ve
always been the young guy on the team, looking up to other players and now
that’s switched in a way. I’m going to stay within myself and what I feel
comfortable with, but I’m fully embracing.”

While the two are certainly young leaders, the average age of the current 21-man roster compared to that of the 25-man roster that ended the season last October is down only one-tenth of a year from 26.4 to 26.3 years. With a slew of very young players currently unsigned and in camp, the overall average age of the club will likely go down a couple years.

Given that Carr and Robinson will be passing wisdom along to their much younger teammates, both give credit to the veterans that advised them early on. 

“When I came up I had some great leaders to show me the
ropes,” said Carr.  “I can take
from them and pass on to some of the new players. I think it’s an important
thing for myself, Dasan, Gonzalo to take on and continue that tradition.”

“C.J. [Brown] was always here,” said Robinson. “[Chris]
Armas, was here. Diego [Gutierrez], Logan -- these guys have been here a while
and kept the profile of the club high and honorable. It’s time for some of us
to step into a leadership position and I’m ready for that.”

Despite both heading into their sixth season, the pair have
seen their share of injury issues that have kept both from making 100 club
appearances. Defender Gonzalo Segares, who was drafted a year before both, but
spent the first half of last season with Cypriot club Apollon, is the only
player apart from Pause to have past the century mark for appearances.

While Carr is fully recovered from the quad injury that kept
him out the first half of last season, Robinson is suffering from the same
injury, something he picked up in last season’s 2-0 win over Columbus on
October 8 and which kept him out for the remainder of the 2010 season.

“You come to find out that quad injuries take a bit longer
to heal than other things,” he said. “Mentally I’m one-hundred percent but
physically I’m not there yet. I’m working day-to-day with Bo and the training
staff to get where I need to be in order to start the season off well.”

One thing that’s certainly different from season’s past is
players being based locally to start the preseason. Training twice-a-day at the
Bridgeview Soccer and Sports Dome as well as spending the interval time
together with each other at Toyota Park is something Carr feels is a nice
change of pace from previous years.

“I like that we’re staying in Chicago. It’s a good chance
from the get-go to acclimate ourselves to our home at Toyota Park. We have a
lot of new faces and it’s important for guys to get comfortable and gain
understanding in order to feel more a part of the club, so in that respect it’s
nice to be at our home based as opposed to some hotel. We have the best
facilities and trainers right at our disposal and it’s nice to sleep in your
own bed as well.”

The players will continue training in Chicago through the
end of this week before departing to Ave Maria, FL where the club will visit
the Chicago Fire Juniors-Florida and have preseason matches scheduled against
Red Bull New York, Seattle Sounders and Florida Gulf Coast University.

 Notes:

  • Supplemental
    Draft Pick Yannick Salmon, former Fire PDL defender Barry Rice,  Scottish striker and University of
    Tulsa alum Ashley McGinnes as well as University of San Francisco alum Hunter
    Jarrett are no longer in camp.
  • Uruguayan striker Gastón Puerari arrived in
    Chicago Sunday and began training with the side Monday morning.

Jeff Crandall is the Team Writer for the
Chicago Fire. Follow him on Twitter
@JefeCrandall.  

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