BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – It didn’t take long for Logan Pause to take advantage of his new pulpit.
The Chicago Fire midfielder – who was named team captain last Saturday – held court over reporters after the team’s first open practice on Tuesday, candidly discussing his thoughts on his new role over the course of a 20-minute, impromptu press conference.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge,” Pause said of being named captain. “It’s great. It’s an honor.”
And it will be quite a challenge. The 30-year-old defensive midfielder – who is taking the armband from retired club legend C.J. Brown – must help the coaching staff shape an inexperienced bunch of players as they try to rebound from a disappointing 2010 season that saw the Fire miss the playoffs for just the second time in franchise history.
“Part of my role now is to try and instill some things that [we need to buy into],” Pause said. “Especially after the trying year we had last year. I’ll be trying to reenergize a group that has a handful of guys that got the taste of the bitterness after being unsuccessful.”
Pause understands that instilling those things will take some time.
“Will we be completely integrated and will it be perfect by opening day? No,” he said. “But it’s a process, and what we want to make sure is that starting right now we really establish a way of how we want to do things; a way of how we conduct ourselves on and off the field. Guys are going to learn how things are done and a lot of guys are going to need to learn those things fast.”
Of course, Pause will have a good deal of help. Veterans Gonzalo Segares, Cory Gibbs, Calen Carr,Dasan Robinson and Jon Conway are all strong locker-room presences, and youngsters Baggio Husidic and Sean Johnson are expected to take a step forward as leaders this year.
“This year is going to put a bit more on the shoulders of the other guys that have been around,” Pause said. “From Gonzalo Segares to Calen Carr and Dasan Robinson, to seeing the character of guys like Sean Johnson – a guy who’s only in his second year but is someone who’s a winner and just has the charisma and personality to help lead.
“It doesn’t need to be this one guy that’s going to come in and work magic,” he added. “It’s about getting into the locker room and trying to get everyone involved.”
Pause will also rely on what he called a “strong” relationship with head coach Carlos de los Cobos to improve communication between the staff and the players.
“We’re trying to establish a good line of communication,” Pause said. “I’m here to help. I’ve been asked in this process to help be a bridge between what happens in our staff office and in our locker room. I think there’s room for improvement, but what I’ve experienced and what I’ve seen so far, I think it’s going to be a good improvement.”
Sam Stejskal covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @samstejskal.