Chicago Fire defender Jorge Corrales has had a long road to the Windy City.
A native of Cuba, Corrales was a late summer addition to head coach Veljko Paunovic's side in 2017, signing from USL affiliate Tulsa Roughnecks on Sept. 14. While not making any appearances during the remainder of his first season in MLS, Corrales had featured 31 times for a Tulsa side that qualified for the USL playoffs for the first time in the club's existence.
A fullback by trade, Corrales has built his career stateside from scratch. After seven seasons spent with Cuban side FC Pinar del Rio, the now 26-year-old arrived in the U.S. and earned a contract after a successful with a trial with Miami FC, then of the NASL. From there, a summer stint with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers was parlayed into a move to Tulsa, where Corrales played his way into a contract with the Fire first team.
Ahead of his first MLS season, Chicago-Fire.com briefly caught up with Corrales, who is embracing his first experience at the top tier of American soccer:
C-F.com: How are you feeling at this point in the preseason fitness-wise?
JC: I feel good. No injury. I don't feel any pain. I feel more fast, more power in my body. For me, it's going to be a big year.
C-F.com: How has it been adjusting to the guys around you, both new faces and old?
JC: I'm happy to be here with this big team. Preseason for me, it's my first experience with a big team in the MLS. We'll be ready for the season.
C-F.com: How does this preseason differ from your previous preseason experiences in USL?
JC: It's a good experience because I've met a lot of good players. In particular it's good for me because I learn a lot of things I need for my style, my game. It's good to be a part of this great team.
C-F.com: How did you find yourself on trial and ultimately signing with the Fire last season?
JC: I just played my game. I played a lot of games, a lot of minutes. Then one time my coach from Tulsa talked with me and he said, 'Hey, Chicago Fire wants to meet you. Go there and you can train one week with the team.' For my career, it's the beginning for my dream. A lot of players I think want to be here in MLS. It's a dream come true.
C-F.com: What opportunities do you feel you have now playing on the MLS level?
JC: There's a lot different between USL and MLS. First of all, it's a lot of games, a lot of good players. The style of the game, everything, the conditions. For me, the first game of the season it's going to be my favorite thing of my career. I hope to be there on the pitch and help the team. We'll see.