Chicago Fire's Frank Klopas on Jeff Larentowicz wearing armband: "A natural leader"
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Chicago Fire manager Frank Klopas couldn't have envisioned that Logan Pause and Arne Friedrich, perhaps his first two choices for team captain, would miss the first two games of the year.
But the current conundrum is another reason why he's glad he swapped the No. 11 pick in this year's MLS SuperDraft for Jeff Larentowicz, who wore the captain's armband on Sunday against the Galaxy and should again on Saturday against New England (7:30 pm ET, NBCSN in the US, MLS Live in Canada, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
“I felt he's got natural leadership abilities and qualities,” Klopas said. “He's a guy that's been a captain on different teams, he's a veteran guy. … That's one of the reasons we brought him in. Not for him to be the captain, but for those qualities as a leader.”
Larentowicz has experience wearing the armband – he donned it in Colorado when Pablo Mastroeni wasn't playing and wore it a few times in New England. But the fact that Klopas made the nine-year MLS veteran his on-field leader in his first start with the club speaks to the success he garnered during preseason.
His debut, though, didn't go as planned in a 4-0 loss, and Larentowicz will have Sunday's defeat in mind when the Revolution come to town on Saturday.
“I'm honored that the coaches and the players have that faith in me,” Larentowicz told MLSsoccer.com. after Sunday's game. “If I do wear it again, we're going to have this game in mind and get the lead and create better opportunities as a team. I need to make sure that I'm the one out there that's pulling everybody together.”
While Pause is still the unquestioned leader of the team, teammates seem to think Larentowicz was the right man to take the captain's place while he's sidelined.
“It was a perfect fit with Logan and Arne being absent,” Nyarko said. “He was the next one because of the command he takes over the locker room, the amount of successful teams he's played on. More than anything, he shows it on the field.”