Wednesday night was a great night for “The Group” and one of its members in particular.
Brandt Bronico signed a new contract on Wednesday, and came on as a substitute against New England that evening, with what he happily described as an extra spring in his step, and what his coach Veljko Paunovic characterized as Bronico looking like he “was on fire.”
A few minutes later Bronico scored the most spectacular goal of the game — checking back in the box to make space for a wonderful shot high into the Revs goal. It sparked a late game surge for the Fire, that also saw Nico Gaitan and Przemysław Frankowski score their first goals for the club, to pile onto Nemanja Nikolic’s first half brace.
It capped a great day for Bronico, who perhaps as much as any player exemplifies one of the quieter but more insistent storylines about Chicago’s season – the depth and personality of “The Group”. It’s meant players like Bronico having to work very hard in training, while understanding that they face limited chances for minutes — shift work Bronico has carried out with a willingness that has impressed his coach and general manager, who in speaking about his new contract both characterized the human qualities of the player.
Paunovic used his post-game remarks to emphasize that Bronico has “Huge potential. He’s the model of a player that we want at our club... I remember the day we drafted him, no one knew about him, but we saw first of all a great human being, and we saw great potential for a player that could have a long, long career with our club.”
Meanwhile President and GM Nelson Rodriguez used one of his scheduled media roundtables earlier in the day to emphasize a similar verdict on Bronico:
“I think BB is a perfect embodiment of our club and the mentality and the type of character that we want as a member of the team. This is a player who continuously does the right things, does things in the right way and always gives his best. He’s active in the community – he doesn’t draw attention to himself for that, but he is. He’s a fantastic teammate.”
And as a compressed schedule shows no sign of slowing down, it’s the Bronico’s of this roster who are going to need to be relied upon to produce consistent quality minutes in support of the regular starters, and if he continues as he has been playing in training, push for more regular starts himself. But even as part of the notional depth in “The Group”, Bronico’s typically upbeat about the challenges of his particular role:
“You do your job as best you can. You lift up other guys. You push other guys to do better, and it makes you better and the team better. You might only get a couple of opportunities but you’ve just got to take advantage of them.”
Or in what might be a motto for “The Group” as a whole:
“I just grind and stick to the process, man.”