The mystery is over.
That’s because the Brazilian-born, formerly Swiss-based midfielder Alex Monteiro De Lima, known simply as Alex, arrived this week to join the Chicago Fire, two weeks in advance of the opening of the summer transfer window.
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“Finally I’m here in Chicago,” Alex said prior to Tuesday’s training session. “It’s brilliant to join the club now that I’ve finished the contract with Wohlen in Switzerland. Now that I’m here, I’m excited to help the team get in the best places. I’m happy to be here to start this new experience.”
The Brazilian attacker has been an enigma for Fire fans since joining the team on trial during the first phase of preseason in Ave Maria, Fla. back in January. That was mainly due to the club releasing only the player’s first name of “Alex”.
Despite impressive performances during preseason matches in Florida and New Orleans, the move to not release the name in full was made because the Fire’s allocated spots on the MLS Discovery List were already taken. With his contract up at the end of the Swiss season, the team kept his name quiet until officially announcing his signing on a free transfer from FC Wohlen in late April.
“It helps a lot to have had the time with the team training earlier this year,” he continued. “I got to know the team and the players so that made my decision to join easier. I come in with a good relationship with my teammates and of course I got to see the atmosphere in the locker room. It all played into my decision to come to the Fire.”
A creative, attacking player in midfield, the 23-year-old was allowed by FC Wohlen to join the Fire two weeks before the opening of the summer transfer window in order to prepare for the second half of the MLS campaign. The first match he’ll be eligible for is the team’s visit to Sporting KC on Friday, June 29.
Continuing the trend of Fire players wearing unorthodox soccer numbers, after some deliberation, Alex explained why he’ll don the #71 shirt for the team this year.
“I was talking with my father about numbers. We looked at what was available and we went back and forth eventually my Dad said to take 71 because seven is a lucky number. Seven and 70 were already taken so I decided on 71. Hopefully this choice brings me luck here.”