BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – Austin Berry was glad to hear Logan Pause's voice early in the Chicago Fire's 3-1 win over New York on Sunday, even though the Chicago captain was yelling at the second-year defender.
That voice was missing during the Fire's 0-3-1 start to the season, when Pause was out with injuries and defensive lapses were commonplace. Right off the bat, Pause shouted at Berry and Jalil Anibaba when the young center backs were slow running back to their defensive positions after the Fire's first set piece.
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“It was just nice to see his presence out there again,” Berry told MLSsoccer.com. “He's always a guy, he's first to give advice, but he's first to get on you. He definitely did that today. We came out a little soft, a couple of us, and he got us going.”
Pause's contributions aren't always easy to discern from above field level. Tackles in the defensive midfield and vocal leadership don't often garner recognition.
But Pause's contributions were appreciated on the field.
“We missed his leadership, his ability to communicate,” coach Frank Klopas said. “You can just see, I think my voice is a lot better today than it was in previous games.”
Pause was originally slated to play right back this season, but a quadriceps strain that eventually led to other injuries forced him to miss a month of games, one of the longest periods of time he's missed as a professional.
After injuries sidelined midfielders Patrick Nyarko and Dilly Duka, Pause slid back into his midfield role in his first game of the season. And he may not move after his performance was lauded by Klopas and his teammates.
“It's rewarding to get back after a long spell away being injured,” Pause said. “Physically, I'm glad I'm on the other side of that. It feels so good to be able to help the team.”
As usual, Pause deferred credit for Sunday's win.
But for a young defensive corps that has struggled with organization at times this season, his presence couldn't have been more important.
“Having Logan back is invaluable,” Anibaba told MLSsoccer.com. “His leadership is huge. I feel like that was the main reason we were so good today. Logan's a guy who just keeps us all in check, who just keeps us where we're supposed to be and keeps us thinking about the small things.”