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.
- 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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