BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. - Following a lengthy, travel-heavy preseason Chicago Fire captain Jeff Larentowicz is delighted to finally spend some time in Chicago ahead of Sunday’s home opener against the New York Red Bulls at Toyota Park (2 pm CT, My50/TWCSC/UniMas).
Having conducted their entire preseason in Florida and Arizona, and having played their opening two regular season games on the west coast, the squad returned home to enjoy their first practice at Toyota Park this week.
“On paper it looks like two road games but really it’s been six weeks on the road, maybe even seven or eight weeks on the road. So to get home and spend more than two nights in your own bed is fantastic,” the midfielder told reporters on Wednesday.
“To be able to relax at home and come into your own locker room is nice and we’re excited for each other to be at home and we’re excited for the fans to come out and play in front of them.”
Facing them on Sunday is the Red Bulls, who have also lost and tied once in their opening two games. However, the 30-year-old believes the attacking options available to the reigning MLS Supporters’ Shield champions will prove a stern test of the Fire’s chances of claiming their first three points of the year.
“There’s some obvious threats with Thierry Henry scoring last week and when he’s on the field that’s always dangerous,” Larentowicz admitted.
“I think they’ve changed the lineup slightly across their two games, but they’ve got strong midfield players and they’re a group that has been together for a long time, so we’ll see.”
He added: “I think the likes of Dax (McCarty) and Eric Alexander in the midfield create a lot for that team and if they can get the ball up to Henry in dangerous spots it’s going to be difficult.”
The Red Bulls denied the Fire a playoff place last year with a thumping 5-2 defeat in the final game of the season, and Larentowicz admitted the pain of that result should be to the fore of his teammates’ minds.
“It should, unfortunately I didn’t play in that game but guys should be thinking about that and try to avenge that loss,” he insisted. “But we’re a different team, this is a new year and at this point we’re just looking to get our first win.”
He concluded: “I’m expecting another good performance, we’ll see, things could happen in the game, but I think it’s equally matched and it’s going to be a good one."