Chicago Fire forward Orr Barouch returned to Toyota Park Wednesday following a week-long adventure that saw the 19-year-old striker make his debut for the Israel U21s in his country’s 4-1 loss to England Monday night in Barnsley.
Playing mostly as a lone striker up top, Barouch logged 68 minutes and started the play in which Mohammed Kilbat put Israel ahead 1-0 in the 25th minute.
Just before halftime, Barouch almost put his side up 2-0 after making a near post run but ended up with a gash after his effort went out for a goal kick.
“I tried to place the ball but it went out for a goal kick,” he said. “As I was falling, the defender was on his back, I fell on my stomach and his cleat was right next to my face and it caught me in the chin.”
Barouch had to come out of the game to receive treatment and for the second time in a few weeks would get stitches at halftime of the match.
Coming out of the break, things shifted as England made a few attacking substitutions that proved effective and Barouch ended his debut in the 68th minute, making way for striker Muanas Dabbur
“I thought I did pretty well,” Barouch said of his performance Wednesday. “England’s subs threw us a bit and we lost our defensive shape so the score got a little lopsided. I learned a lot though training and just joining the team for the first time was awesome. The guys accepted me right away and the coach is great. “
One of only two foreign-based players on the roster, Barouch, who grew up in Southern California received a number of questions from his new teammates when he came into camp.
“My story is a little different from theirs. They asked what the life was like over here, about the style of play in MLS, where I’ve played and why I’m so big. They were cool guys.”
On trial with the Fire in February, Barouch was scouted by then-U.S. U-20 head coach Thomas Rongen during the side’s 4-1 victory over the New York Red Bulls in Ft. Lauderdale. The young striker impressed Rongen, scoring all four of the team’s goals in a performance that likely sealed his year-long loan with the Fire.
Not a U.S. citizen at the time, Rongen had interest in Barouch potentially to make the final U.S. U20 roster for this year’s FIFA World Championship but the Americans failed to qualify and things were put on hold.
Despite having spent most of his life in the United States, Barouch does not have U.S. citizenship and when Israel called, he was more than willing to play for the country of his birth.
“To play for Israel was a huge dream for me. It’s the country I was born in and my whole family is from there. I’m excited I got the opportunity.”
Despite making his debut, Barouch is leaving his international options open as his appearance does not cap-tie him to Israel.
“I haven’t made the decision on who I’d represent. I don’t have my U.S. citizenship though so I can’ play for them right now. Just as far as living, I’d love to have my U.S. citizenship for when I leave and come back here. It takes time. We were trying earlier this year but had hang-ups. At the end, Israel called me and it’s the only country I’m eligible for so I went and I was proud to play for them.”
Back to full training with the Fire on Thursday morning, Barouch is looking to apply what he learned over the past week towards the final two months of the MLS season.
“It was a good experience but I’m excited to be back here. I love playing for the Fire, I think we have a great chance to make it to the playoffs. We just have to make that final push. Frank has us really focused, we believe we can make the playoffs and win the U.S. Open Cup. We know how important both are and we’re ready for San Jose on Saturday.”
Jeff Crandall is the Team Writer for the Chicago Fire. Follow @jefecrandall