Chicago Fire's Schweinsteiger can't get enough soccer

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Colorado Rapids midfielder Micheal Azira, right, heads the ball next to Chicago Fire midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger during the first half of an MLS soccer match, Wednesday, May 17, 2017, in Bridgeview, Ill.

    Colorado Rapids midfielder Micheal Azira, right, heads the ball next to Chicago Fire midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger during the first half of an MLS soccer match, Wednesday, May 17, 2017, in Bridgeview, Ill.

 
 
Updated 6/1/2017 9:41 PM

When Bastian Schweinsteiger confesses to being something of a soccer nerd, he isn't fooling around.

More than an hour after the first of his Chicago Fire teammates had left the Toyota Park training field Thursday afternoon, Schweinsteiger remained. Even after the last of his Fire teammates had gone to the locker room, he stayed.

 

First he chose to kick a soccer ball back and forth with Chicago Red Stars players as they waited to use the field while the Fire finished. Not just a couple of kicks but a lengthy game of long ball paired with some good-natured banter.

As the Red Stars -- in second place in the National Women's Soccer League standings at 4-2-1 and 13 points -- took the field to begin their training session, Schweinsteiger stayed to watch, first sitting down and stretching on the grass, then moving closer to lean against a mini-goal off to the side.

He watched so intently, at first he didn't hear Fire coach Veljko Paunovic yelling to him from 40 yards away.

He even inspired Paunovic to join him.

"I'll go down there and learn something," said Paunovic, something of a soccer nerd himself. "Seriously, these guys (the Red Stars) are good."

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The 32-year-old German superstar is being paid $5.4 million to play in Chicago this summer, but this was another example that he didn't cross the Atlantic Ocean just to pick up a big paycheck.

D.J. back in action:

An injury forced Fire first-round draft pick Daniel Johnson to miss his first chance to start an MLS game.

"I got word that my first start was going to come against D.C. (United on May 20) before I picked up an injury, so I want to press on for that and hopefully get back into that," he said. " … It was bad timing."

Johnson wasn't even among the Fire's 18 players available on game day a couple of times while recuperating from a painful contusion on his right shin suffered in training.

"It's still a little bit of pain but more manageable now," he said.

Johnson, a midfielder, has impressed with his technical ability in the attack. He has played 91 minutes over six games so far. With Dax McCarty missing the next two games while with the U.S. national team, Johnson could have a chance at more playing time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The new guy:

Major League Soccer is between transfer windows, but the Fire managed to add a player this week anyway.

Sort of.

Guillermo Delgado, one of the Fire's 2017 second-round draft picks, joined the team this week after he stayed at the University of Delaware to finish school.

"Obviously my touches are not there yet, but I'm working on my fitness," the speedy forward said. "I'm on the level of the practice so I can be involved, I can be what everyone else is doing. I just have to get sharper. But other than that I feel good."

A native of Spain who will require an international spot on the roster, Delgado said he has not been told since he arrived Tuesday whether he will be loaned out to the Fire's USL affiliate in Tulsa to get playing time now that he has missed the first three months of the season.

Also joining the Fire are Academy players and collegians Mauricio Pineda (North Carolina) and Andrew Gutman (Indiana).

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