After whirlwind start to 2014, Greg Cochrane settles in well for Fire debut

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Writing on the old internet machine the last few months, it seems like I’ve used the word “newbie” to describe a number of players.

Taking a cursory scan of the Fire roster, it’s an appropriate adjective as 15 of the current 29 were actually with the team at the end of last season.

One of the most recent acquisitions was defender Greg Cochrane who was one of six Fire players making their Toyota Park debut for the club in Sunday’s home opener vs. New York.

“I thought Greg did really well on Sunday,” Fire head coach Frank Yallop said on Tuesday. “To come into a team that he’s not really trained with that much and play like he did, there are no surprises with his performance to be honest. He’s a good pro and a young player, I thought he performed well with all the circumstances.”

Those circumstances saw the 23-year-old left back step in for established veteran Gonzalo Segares, who was unavailable for the match due to an ankle sprain suffered after a late knock he took in the previous match at Portland.

After playing in 12 games last season for the LA Galaxy, the match was also Cochrane’s first appearance for his new club and after settling into the game early, the second-year MLS defender performed admirably, dealing mostly with the activity of Red Bull winger Lloyd Sam throughout the match.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Cochrane told “I try to improve game to game. I’ll go back and watch the videos. There are positives and negatives -- I try to take everything I can to try and get better for next game but we got a result against the team that won the Supporter’s Shield last year so you need to find the positives in that.”

Cochrane was also one of two new full backs in Yallop’s lineup as another newbie, Matt Watson, moved back from his central midfield position to fill in for the suspended Lovel Palmer on Sunday.

Post-game and again on Tuesday, Yallop spoke about the field not being in top shape after the brutal winter that has hit Chicago and most of the midwest. Had it been better, he thought both defenders might have done better in the attack.

“I thought the two full backs played well for us on a difficult pitch. If it was flatter and a little more even they would have gotten forward more and enjoyed the ball but all and all I was very happy with our defensive play.”

For Cochrane, the game was the culmination of a whirlwind few weeks that saw him finish preseason with one team only to join another to start the campaign.

With his first appearance out of the way, he says he can begin finding a more permanent home than the team hotel to stay as him and perspective roommate Harry Shipp were set to search for apartments Tuesday and Wednesday.

The two newbies on the backline could see another game this weekend at D.C. as Yallop said Tuesday that Segares is still struggling with the knock he took to his ankle in Portland while Palmer will serve the second game of his two-match ban on the weekend.

Cochrane knows his push for playing time will be more difficult when Segares, who has been the club’s mainstay left back for nearly a decade, returns to health but he recognizes every time he steps on the field as another chance to impress.

“When you’re a young player, you have to be ready to go at any time. Your place isn’t going to be handed to you and so when the opportunity to start comes up, you have to take it. I thought Sunday was a good building block and I’ll be ready to go again this weekend.”