Austin Berry was an ironman for the Chicago Fire last season, playing every minute of every game. The additions of Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Patrick Ianni make that less likely.
"It'll be nice," Berry said of the added depth in the middle of the defense. "We have four guys there, five guys if you include Hunter (Jumper), that have proven themselves at this level. We'll have to be on every single training session and make sure we're focused on what we want to do and it'll be good to know that if something does happen, someone goes down, we have guys that are able to step in and step up, that have played and done very well at this level."
The Fire's other ironman last season, right back Jalil Anibaba, was traded this month for Hurtado and Ianni.
"It's a guy who's played next to me a lot, for a lot of games straight," Berry said. "It kind of (stinks) to see him leave. He's a good young player, but I know he'll do well in Seattle and I know he's excited about the move."
Players reported to Toyota Park for physicals and photos before flying to Florida on Sunday to begin training. Mike Magee and Sean Johnson were the lone exceptions because they are training with the U.S. national team.
C.J. is back:
Defender Bakary Soumare called assistant coach C.J. Brown, a former Fire teammate, "one of the best additions of the off-season."
"I'm excited to learn from him," added Berry, the 2012 MLS rookie of the year. "He's someone who a lot of people look up to."
"I'll probably be the happiest just having known him for so long," veteran Logan Pause said. "It's an incredible asset for us to get a guy like him that's played 13 years here, that's a legend here but also from the standpoint of the kind of coach, the kind of person he is, it's going to be great for this team."
Ready to go:
Soumare said he notices a change in how he feels this year now that he's recovered from a lingering knee injury.
"Last year coming into the season I was in Philly I was feeling good but I was still very rusty being out for a whole year," Soumare said. "I've played this whole off-season. I feel really good."
Soumare said it's the first time in 2 to 3 years he doesn't feel any knee pain.
"Last year at this time I was still having my knee drained every week," he said.
Shipp ready to sail:
Wondering how highly regarded homegrown signing Harry Shipp will do? If his former Notre Dame teammates Dillon Powers and Ryan Finley are any indication, Shipp should have a good rookie year. Powers was the 2013 rookie of the year in MLS.
"Kind of seeing (Powers) go through it and having success this past year, I talked to him every week about it, talking about kind of the highs and lows of the MLS season compared with college, so I think having that resource is keeping me strong going into the preseason," Shipp said.
Pause's signing was announced Friday, but had been expected for a while. Pause, entering his 12th season with the Fire, re-signed with a pay cut. Pause said he's healthy and fit and ready to get to work for a new coach.
"It's part of the business. When you don't win, there are changes that are made," Pause said. "But it's exciting to see the group that's come in, the players that have been brought in. ... It feels like the first day of my first year."
After getting his problematic right shoulder fixed, Berry knows he has some work to do to get in shape.
"I wasn't able to run until two weeks ago, so to get back in shape is going to be rough," he said.
The good news is that the shoulder healed so well that he's ahead of schedule.
Just for kicks:
Orr Barouch and Federico Puppo are still under contract to the Fire but were loaned out overseas last season. Barouch is expected back with the team, but Puppo will not come back, coach Frank Yallop said Friday.
Technical director Brian Bliss also said the team hopes to reacquire midfielder Marco Pappa, who wants to return from the Netherlands. However, the Fire no longer holds his MLS rights, meaning the club probably will have to trade up in the league's allocation order to get Pappa.
"We are trying as we speak to try and get him back, but it's not been easy," Bliss said.
The Fire also picked up forward Giuseppe Gentile from UNC-Charlotte in Friday's waiver draft.
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