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updated: 3/15/2013 2:24 PM

Fire's Larentowicz meets pressure head-on

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  • New Fire midfielder Jeff Larentowicz, left, was a Fire nemesis when he played at New England. He later won the MLS Cup with Colorado before joining the Fire this season.

      New Fire midfielder Jeff Larentowicz, left, was a Fire nemesis when he played at New England. He later won the MLS Cup with Colorado before joining the Fire this season.
    Daily Herald file photo

 
 

Jeff Larentowicz is in kind of a tough spot.

He's one of the new guys on the Chicago Fire, a guy many of the Fire faithful still want to hate from his time torturing the Fire when he played for the New England Revolution.

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And in his first two games with his new team, he's the guy the Fire handed the captain's armband to when Logan Pause was relegated to the bench with an injury -- after Larentowicz took Pause's spot at central midfield, forcing Pause to try out at right back.

And then the Fire lost those first two games without even scoring.

That's a tough spot, but Larentowicz brushes it off.

"Everyone on the team's been great," the central midfielder said. "Everyone, including the coaching staff, knows that I came here and I want to win. Everyone else feels that same way, and they see me as a guy with experience in the league and they're hoping that I can kind of instill the same sort of success that I've had elsewhere with this team.

"It's something that if you are given that responsibility you have to take it head-on. You can't go into it timid. With time, the players understand where I'm coming from."

He's coming directly from Colorado, where he helped the Rapids win the MLS Cup. He spent five seasons in New England before that, where he always seemed to have success against the Fire at a time when the Fire and the Revolution always seemed to meet in the playoffs.

Now he's trying to bring his winning ways to the Fire, a team that last year ended a two-year playoff drought with an unsatisfying one-and-done postseason showing. The quest for the first win of the season continues with Saturday's match at Sporting Kansas City (2 p.m., NBC Sports Network).

"He's a leader on the field," coach Frank Klopas said. "He's done it before with other teams. I think more than anything he brings that to the field. He's very focused and serious and brings some intensity and some bite in the middle and also the ability to play out of the back."

Though he's winning over his teammates and coaches, results are probably the only way he can win over some fans.

"I didn't expect them to forget the past," the Brown University graduate said. "There's definitely been some people who have, you know, expressed their feelings towards me. I don't think it's just going to be a flip of a switch. I think I'm going to have to earn their respect, and I'm OK with that."

The right pick:

Congratulations to former U.S. Soccer secretary general Hank Steinbrecher, a Glen Ellyn resident and a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame, who will have his name attached to the trophy awarded the winning team in the new National Amateur Championship, a tournament to determine the nation's top amateur team.

The tournament will be held by the Bridgeview-based U.S. Adult Soccer Association and starts in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the U.S. Soccer Federation. The championship will be held May 24-26 at Greensboro, N.C.

Follow Orrin's soccer reports on Twitter @orrin_schwarz

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