Sega Happy in Chicago

The last few weeks in Fire Land would have to be considered successful.

The announcement of two Designated Player signings and the team’s recent victory over league-leading Los Angeles Galaxy have perhaps overshadowed the return of fan favorite Gonzalo Segares following a six-month stint with Cypriot club Apollon which ended earlier this summer.

A veteran of 130 Fire matches across all competitions from 2005-09, Segares ranks third on the current roster in games played for the club, sitting behind only C.J. Brown (361) and Logan Pause (220).

“I’m happy to come back to Chicago,” said Segares. “The past couple of months were frustrating, just waiting around to see what was going to happen with my club situation. I think Frank [Klopas] called me at the right time and tried to figure out what I was doing and I was still free. I started my career here and they’ve always been good to me here, I was really happy to come back to the Fire.”

The Costa Rican international’s reacquisition should signal that the club is looking to strengthen itself on both sides of the ball as the team pushes for a twelfth playoff appearance in 13 seasons. The club’s current position in the MLS standings is one that the defender wasn’t used to during his first stint in Chicago.

“This is a very good team but I think it’s been a rough season with a lot of injuries. Culture-wise it’s hard in this league to get used to a coach from overseas, but I’ve been watching a bunch of games and the team’s play and mentality have improved. Little by little the incorporations of [Freddie] Ljungberg and [Nery] Castillo are going to help and hopefully getting John [Thorrington] and Patrick [Nyarko] back will make us even better.”

Having seen a number of Fire games this season, Segares was also familiar with the team’s new style of play under Carlos de los Cobos, contrasting the way the club played under previous manager Denis Hamlett the past two seasons.

“I can tell he definitely wants to keep more possession instead of being as direct as we were last year. The mentality of Latin football: keeping the ball, making the passes and then creating from there. I think that’s something he’s trying to integrate, especially for the guys from the States that are maybe not as used to that style of play. It may take a little while but getting used to his ways is only going to make us better.”

Though he oozes Fire seniority, the Virginia Commonwealth product was unable to take back his old number 25 as rookie goalkeeper Sean Johnson began wearing it this season.

“I’m wearing #31 because Sean has my number and he’s playing pretty well right now so I’ll let him keep it. It’s fine by me.”

Segares will hope to be available for selection for next Wednesday’s important Eastern Conference clash as the New England Revolution visit Toyota Park for the second time in 31 days. The two clubs last met in SuperLiga on July 17, with the visitors taking a 1-0 win back to Boston.

Jeff Crandall is the Chicago Fire’s Team Writer. Follow him on Twitter @ChicagoFire.