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by Bryan Alvarez, September 9th, 2008 7AM
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[MLS] Bakary Soumare's solid play has helped Chicago yield a league-low 18 goals this year. Get to know Soumare in this profile by Soccer America's Bryan Alvarez that covers on- and off-field experiences. ...

(Chicago Fire)

POSITION: Defender

AGE: 22 (born Nov. 9, 1985 in Mali)

HOMETOWN: Paris, France

YOUTH CLUB: Red Storm Arrows (4 years)

COLLEGE: University of Virginia

STARTING OUT: I grew up in Paris, France. Over there, soccer is what people play. I didn't have choices like here. I moved to New York in 2001.

EARLY SOCCER MEMORY: I was in France for the '98 World Cup. I lived one mile from the Stade de France. When France won there were literally millions of people on the streets.

FIRST CLEATS: A pair of Mizunos.

CURRENT CLEATS: Adidas Predators.

OTHER SPORTS: None. Soccer is it.

FAVORITE TEAMS: Chelsea and the New York Yankees.

FAVORITE PLAYER: Patrick Viera and Kevin Garnett.


FAVORITE ACTOR: Denzel Washington.

FAVORITE TV SHOW: "English Premier League Review Show" and "SportsCenter."

LIVING SITUATION: I'm lucky. I bought a condo here in Chicago.

MLS EXPERIENCE: I love it. I love Chicago. I love my teammates. On and off the field these guys are my family. This is the best year of my life.

COLLEGE EXPERIENCE: It was good. Virginia soccer is such a powerhouse. It's a good location. It's a top-notch program. I was put in a position to succeed. Being at Virginia helped me out a lot.

MOST INFLUENTIAL COACH: Dave Masur. He's the head coach at St. John's now. He was my youth coach at the Red Storm Arrows. Also, Mike McGinty. He was an assistant coach at UVA. He gave me great tips and training.

MEMORABLE COACHING ADVICE (from youth coach): It wasn't from a youth coach but [Chicago assistant coach Chris Armas gave me some good advice. He said, "Forget about the stat sheets and the media. Work very hard to make the fans, your teammates and your family proud."

HOBBIES: I like to watch movies and hang out with my teammates. I like to lay low, hang out and eat at restaurants in Chicago.

MUSIC: I listen to a little bit of everything. I like R&B. Before a game, I listen to African music from Mali.

READING: GQ magazine.

VACATION: I love Paris. For me, it's the best city in the world. I have friends and family there, too.

FAMOUS PEOPLE YOU'D INVITE TO DINNER: I can only think of two. Nelson Mandela and Zinedine Zidane.

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