Chicago Fire coach Carlos de los Cobos is rebuilding the team’s defense. He made that decision clear on Monday, when the team decided to waive veteran goalkeeper Jon Busch in favor of former backup Andrew Dykstra, who has seen no MLS action.
Last week, the team signed rookie defender Kwame Watson-Siriboe, who is likely to spend some time on the back line in front of Dykstra.
The former University of Connecticut star says he has worked hard in camp to earn a position with the team.
“We’re still as a team trying to get to know each other, and I think the coach as well is trying to figure out players and what multiple positions they can play in,” said the Southern California native. “Just trying to be a total soccer player right now.”
Although a star in college (he was the Big East co-Defensive Player of the Year last year), Watson-Siriboe sees big differences in training with an MLS team.
“The big difference? You still have to think,” he said.” College, as soon as you get there it’s fast, but you get used to it. Now you have to think -- before you get to the ball you have two or three options.”
Watson-Siriboe said he worked during the preseason on his quickness and fitness, two things that are important during a long, grueling MLS season.
“Everybody is very fit at this level,” he said, noting it was something that was stressed at UConn.
“The challenging thing for me is to play with confidence, so that If you make a mistake, its not the end of the world, so you end up bouncing back from that on the next play.”
Watson-Siriboe says he has received mentoring and help from a number of the veteran players. “A lot of the veterans have mentored me well. They just give you the insight in order to help you to help your game improve every time you step on the field.”
The team is also pretty high on his abilities.
“He’s good in the air,” said Fire Technical Director Frank Klopas. “With players like that, they obviously have to adjust to speed in the league. We are looking for players who can also build out of the back and be good with the ball. He’s a strong guy, but he needs work, just like a lot of guys you get in the draft. That’s the one thing that you have to understand. You’ve got to keep guys in the right environment and give them an opportunity to develop and grow.”
With a new untested goalkeeper in between the pipes on Saturday, the Fire may have to figure out how quickly a guy like Watson-Siriboe can develop.