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Chicago Fire Preseason 2017 | Rookie Roundup

From the player combine to the MLS SuperDraft to their first training camp experiences as a professional, it's safe to call the month of January a whirlwind for the 2017 Chicago Fire rookie class. With a handful of preseason training sessions now under their belt, we caught up with the lot of them to gather their early impressions of life as a pro in the Windy City.

Midfielder Daniel Johnson
On if there have been any surprises from camp so far:
“I don’t think it’s anything I wasn’t expecting. I honestly didn’t know what to expect, so there’s really nothing that surprised me. I came in with the expectation that I wanted to enjoy it and have some fun. I’m really happy with the guys and how they’ve been in the locker room and accepting the new guys and welcoming us in. Training has been really good. (It’s been) a lot of technical stuff and fitness-based stuff, but with the ball which is always a positive."

On early impressions of his new teammates:
“There’s a good crop of young guys here who are all really good players -- like Collin (Fernandez), Matt Polster, Drew Conner – and of course some seasoned guys who you’ve watched on TV and watched for years. Guys like Juninho and Nemanja (Nikolic) who has come in. It’s awesome to see their training habits and getting to learn from them, the way that they’ve made it to the top of their respective leagues. Being able to train with guys like that is a big learning experience. I’ve enjoyed that a lot.”

Goalkeeper Stefan Cleveland
On the differences in training at the professional level: 
“I think the biggest thing is managing your workouts. The collegiate level, all the bodies are young, pretty much 22 years old max, and it’s a short season, so you can have high-intensity trainings. Not that we won’t have that, but it’s a long season. Being a professional, some of these guys are older and have been running around on turf for a long time, so the warmups are longer and the cool downs are longer. They’re very particular about you knowing exactly what’s going on and managing the effort and strain on the body.”

See Also: Preseason Friendly Schedule

On what he’s picked up from his fellow goalkeepers so far:
“They’re super helpful. Talking to Jorge (Bava) can be funny. He doesn’t know a lot of English. There’s a lot of translation going on. Matt (Lampson), he’s a Columbus guy. I grew up around the same area. He’s been really good. (Goalkeeper coach Aleksandar) “Sarke” (Saric), he’s awesome. He’s a great guy. All good intentions. (He) does things a little differently, which is good. It’s been a great experience so far.”

Midfielder Brandt Bronico
On his early camp impressions:
“It’s going well. Coming in from college to professional is a big transition. You have to be able to adapt quick to the tempo and the intensity. I think I’ve adapted well. It’s all about having fun and getting better.”

On the on-field environment at this point in camp:
“The main thing is it’s cool seeing how everybody speaks different languages and how everybody can communicate through soccer and through the ball. When everybody’s out here, we’re just playing and speaking the same language. That’s the main thing I’ve noticed and thought was really cool about the environment.”

Forward Guillermo Delgado
On his approach to training camp so far:
“I believe first of all you have to have fun, and that’s what I have here. I come to practice and I enjoy breaking those physical barriers to get better. Little by little it’s getting better, and I’m happy.”

On surprises and differences from collegiate level:
“Just the commitment. Everyone has a big commitment here. The professionalism is top notch. That’s the big difference with college. Some people in college are committed to their studies, and everyone here is committed to doing their best.”

Defender Matej Dekovic
On how he’s feeling having completed his first few training sessions:
“I feel great. Physically and mentally, it’s good. You’ve got to catch up a little bit. The speed of play is different than college, but other than that I feel good. I feel ready to go. I can’t wait until the games start as well.”

On what excites him most about the experience so far:
“Right now they’re currently trying to play me in two positions, so for me it’s just adapting quick to both of those positions. I’m also hurrying up to get ready for the games when they start as well. I’m looking forward to the games most to be honest.

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