[MLS SPOTLIGHT] Mexican midfielder Pavel Pardo, who bolstered the Fire’s late surge after joining the club in midseason, will be back in MLS this year.
“I’m starting with the team from the beginning of the year which I think is so important to how we develop as a group,” said Pardo in a team press release. “I know the club well, I know my teammates and I think we have a great base heading into 2012 because we had so many new players last year. This season there will be less new faces and we’ll be starting off on a much stronger foot.”
Chicago announced Wednesday that Pardo, 35, had agreed to terms for 2012. He’d scored one goal and registered five assists in 13 league games after signing a short-term contract last August. Along with Argentine Sebastian Grazzini, the former Mexican international propelled the Fire to a run of four straight wins that left it just short of a playoff spot.
“Pavel helped kick-start our turnaround at the end of last season,” Chicago Fire head coach Frank Klopas said in a statement. “He provides tremendous experience for us in the middle of the park, serves as a great example for our younger players, and plays for the badge every time he steps on the field.”
Grazzini, who scored five goals and four assists in 11 games, and Pardo fared better than forward Gabe Ferrari, another midseason signing. Ferrari, a former U.S. U-20 international who was once with Italian club Sampdoria, played just 17 minutes and was waived in November.
“It’s always difficult when you bring someone in late, especially for us in the secondary window,” said Klopas last week at the SuperDraft. “Both the guys we brought in adapted right away. Pavel is a guy who’s played in Germany in a tough league, he was the captain, he comes in with the right mentality and attitude. He’s a great pro, he’s got a lot of experience, and I think he made a lot of
impact with players who saw someone like that, of his age, that the attitude was good. He was a guy with the right attitude and character that we were looking for. Guys like Grazzini and the other players followed his leadership.”
The Fire players and staff began gathering today for the start of preseason camp. They head to Florida on Friday for two weeks of training that the club has announced will include matches against D.C. United (Jan. 29) and Florida Gulf Coast University (Feb. 1) It then travels to New Orleans to play Honduran club Real Espana in a friendly Feb. 4.
For the second segment of preseason training the first-team players will spend 10 days (Feb. 8-18) in Southern California. Matches during the camp based in Ventura have not been finalized. The final portion of preseason (Feb. 21-March 5) will be centered by the Carolina Challenge Cup, at which the Fire will play D.C. United, Columbus, and host Charleston Battery