BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Coming up on the end of his seventh season in Chicago, Fire attacker Patrick Nyarko is set to hit a career milestone this week.
Should the Ghanaian midfielder appear in Saturday’s match at D.C. United, he’d become just the ninth player in club history to register 200 appearances across all competitions for the Men in Red.
“I had no idea,” Nyarko told Chicago-Fire.com on Tuesday. “Hearing that, I feel blessed. It’s not many people that can say they played 200 games in their professional career and I’m still going.”
Among the names Nyarko would join in the Fire’s “200 Club” include teammates past and present C.J. Brown (372), Logan Pause (336), Gonzalo Segares (262), Chris Rolfe (209) and Justin Mapp (208) as well as club originals Zach Thornton (276), Chris Armas (272) and Jesse Marsch (259).
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“You see the number of players that are up there in games for this club and the quality professionals and how they served MLS and the Fire. To be mentioned up there with them is an honor.”
Nyarko would have reached the milestone sooner had he not been sidelined for nearly four months after suffering a knee sprain back in May.
Unable to help for much of the season as the team sifted through a campaign which saw it ultimately miss the playoffs and break the league record for draws in a season, Nyarko admitted 2014 has been a tough year for him personally.
“This year has been extremely difficult with the results on the field and me coming off a long injury layoff, it made it the most frustrating year of my career.
“We as a group can evaluate ourselves and say it wasn’t the greatest of results but we don’t feel we’re far off. We tied a lot of games and those games could have gone either way. Win three or four of those games and we’re in the playoffs. It’s tough but I believe in the coaching staff. They’re extremely successful and they’re going to instill in us how to win because they’ve been winners in the past.”
While the team’s final two games have a little less meaning that they have the past few years, Nyarko still has a lot of use for them as he continues his injury comeback.
“For me it’s to learn how to get my confidence back,” he said. “I’ve been out injured for a while and since I’ve been back I think I’ve played decent but not to my potential. I need to relearn all of that and sometimes it takes a half or a game to rediscover things with your game.
“Personally for me there’s a lot to play for. I need to get my confidence heading into the offseason. I’m planning continuous training to get ready for the next year and you start gaining your confidence right now, it goes a long way to getting the belief in yourself back.”
Getting back to full form will be helpful for player and club as Nyarko indicated last week that he and the Fire are working towards a new deal to bring him back in 2015. With the October 24 match being the final game of Logan Pause’s 12 year career with the Fire, I asked Nyarko if he’d like to stay at the club as long as his teammate had.
“This club has been really good to me over the past years and it’s a great organization. Andrew [Hauptman] is a great person and he strives to do what is best for the club. You have Frank [Yallop], C.J. and Clint [Mathis] who are committed to building this club into a championship caliber team. As long as they want me here, I’d like to be here. I have unfinished business, I want to win something and I’m striving for that.”