Arne Friedrich returns from Germany, trains at Toyota Park Wednesday

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- After Sunday’s home defeat to Chivas USA, it was a great sign to see 2012 Fire Defender of the Year Arne Friedrich return to training Wednesday at Toyota Park.

Friedrich picked up a left hamstring injury at the tail-end of preseason that kept him out of the team’s opening matches. In order to speed up his recovery, the veteran center back flew back to Berlin on March 10 for two weeks of therapy with his long-time fitness specialist Thomas Fennewald.

“It’s a good feeling to be back here in Chicago with the team,” Friedrich told “I missed the guys and it’s good to be back on the field.”

Though he didn’t return to full training, the German defender jogged and did some ball work on his own before joining the team for some passing drills.

“I don’t have pain anymore and I guess we can celebrate that a little bit. The most important thing is that no pain is left.”

READ: Athletico Injury Report

Friedrich’s return to the training field is a good sign for a Fire team that has conceded nine goals in its first four matches. Just as important though is the veteran presence he brings back to a team that is pushing through a difficult start to the season.

“We played some games and obviously we didn’t get the points we wanted to have. This is soccer, sometimes you get the points and sometimes not. It’s a very long season and so we gotta stick together as a team.

“I already told somebody that always in times of struggle, when it seems to be very hard you can learn the most and maybe we can come together as a team a little bit more.”

This week’s bye week seems to have come at a great time as Friedrich joins a number of Fire players in recovering and regaining fitness.

Asked if he thought he would be ready for New York on April 7, Friedrich said, “We’ll see. Today was my first practice and everything went fantastic. We’ll see how my body reacts in the next couple days.”