TUCSON -- The numbers in Chicago Fire training camp were boosted by one upon the team’s arrival in Tucson Saturday as forward Orr Barouch re-joined the team in Arizona after a year-and-a-half loan stint with Israeli Premier League side Bnei Yehuda.
“It feels too long,” Barouch told Chicago-Fire.com. “I love the Fire, I love the club, everyone that works upstairs, the fans, the city, I love living in Chicago. I’m super excited to come back, it’s been too long.”
Barouch joined the Fire on loan from Mexican side Tigres in 2011 with the then 19-year-old forward serving as a bright spot for the club through the first half of a dismal season.
Playing almost exclusively as a substitute, Barouch tallied five goals and two assists across all competitions and was the team’s leading scorer in U.S. Open Cup play that year.
His performance saw the Fire purchase his contract from Tigres that offseason but despite what seemed to be a more secure future, the Israeli youth international saw his playing time dip, making just 10 competitive appearances the following year.
In contention for a place on the Israeli team that was hosting last summer’s UEFA U-21 Championships, Barouch was sent on loan to Bnei Yehuda in August 2012. He ended up scoring three goals in 30 appearances for Yehuda and also played in all three of Israel’s matches at the Euros but admits he still kept close tabs on the Fire.
“I got a lot of out it. I was also with the Israel U21s all the time. It was a lot easier, we were in camp once a week leading up to the U21 Euros. I learned a lot experience from the [U-21] coach Guy Lozen who’s at Standard Liege now. I had a couple of injuries there that dragged me down a bit but I learned a lot and grew a lot as a player.”
The most recent injury is a broken foot that he spent the first two weeks of Fire preseason rehabbing at his home in Los Angeles.
“Once I got the cast off, I flew back to LA a couple days after and started physical therapy. I should be good to go by the beginning of the season. It’ll take some time but I’ll be ready for it.”
As he walks back into the Fire fold, he’ll once again face competition for time up top. This time it’ll come in the form of 2013 MLS MVP Mike Magee, Designated Player Juan Luis Anangono, club veteran Chris Rolfe and upstart substitute Quincy Amarikwa.
“It’s always great to have competition. I think stepping into the team right now, there’s a lot to learn from these older guys. I’ve been there before -- there was a lot of competition in Israel. I think it’s healthy. I’m ready to work and hopefully I can get into that lineup too.”