Brian Kersey Chicago Fire

Brazilian midfielder Alex shows his versatility for Chicago Fire

Versatility in any team is a must. It’s been evidenced for the Fire earlier this season as the team needed to rely on a variety of different midfielders to fill in at right back.

More recently though, Fire head coach Frank Klopas has utilized the overall ability of Brazilian attacker Alex to fill in as a central midfielder, forward and most recently playing as a winger in last Friday’s 1-0 win over Sporting KC.

According to the second-year Fire player, his ability to plug in at different positions was predicated by starting his career on the left side of a 3-5-2 with Brazilian side Gremio Mauaense in his youth.

“I used to play on the left side in the 3-5-2,” Alex said through a translator Thursday. “I wasn’t exactly a left back but to be able to play in that formation, it’s a lot of coverage on both sides of the field, attacking and defending.”

When Alex transferred to Swiss side FC Wohlen in 2008, he focused more of his time on the midfield and even as a forward.

Klopas has recognized the player’s experience all over the field and has felt comfortable deploying him where needed since his arrival last June.

“You underestimate without the ball the hard work he does and how well he defends,” said Klopas. “It’s something that we’ve talked to him about and worked with him on.

“Everybody wants the ball at their feet but with that he helps the team. Even if he doesn’t get on the score sheet, his ability to help the team in other ways has been a plus.”

Last Friday Alex deputized on the right side of midfield for Patrick Nyarko, who is still gaining fitness after missing two weeks with concussion symptoms and would likely be there again Sunday vs. Houston should the Ghanaian not be deemed fully fit from the start.

Wherever Klopas plugs him in, Alex says, “It doesn’t matter where I play, it just matters to be on the field.”