As the Fire begin life under coach Raphael Wicky and sporting director Georg Heitz, midfielder Alvaro Medran is in a unique spot.
New to the team after joining in October, Medran was brought in by a coach who’s gone and a general manager who’s since shifted exclusively to the business side. So even though he’s never played a game for the Fire, Medran is a holdover from the previous regime, signed to fit a system that’s no longer in place after coach Veljko Paunovic was dismissed in November.
But if he’s bothered by his situation, Medran is hiding it well. He sounds eager to impress Wicky and a technical staff that didn’t sign him.
“Throughout my playing career, there have been several coaching changes,” Medran said through a translator. “I’m happy that Pauno brought me and he wanted me here, but you have to keep playing and try to be at 100 percent, doing your absolute best to convince the coach that you deserve that time and that you want to be out there. I’m just doing my best and trying to earn minutes and show Coach Wicky that I want to be on this team and play for this team.”
Medran’s signing was announced on Oct. 10, two days after he was spotted at the Fire’s news conference when they confirmed their return to Soldier Field. That the Fire added Medran using Targeted Allocation Money seemed to be another indication Paunovic was coming back for a fifth season.
“I’ve known Álvaro since his time with Real Madrid and I’ve always enjoyed his style of play,” Paunovic said when the Fire added Medran. “Every team in the league is looking for a player like Álvaro. He’s a player that has experience but is still young and in his prime. He was developed at one of the best teams in the world and wants to come here and give his best. He also fits our style very well. He’s capable of scoring goals, assisting, keeping the ball and has a high tactical understanding. We can’t wait to start working with him.”
Of course, Paunovic didn’t work with Medran for long.
Medran, however, wasn’t caught completely off-guard by the change. He said he knew it was possible Paunovic could be dismissed, but was still grateful the now-former coach brought him to the Fire. And Paunovic is far from the only change the team has made in Medran’s short time in Chicago.
“All of the changes, part of what happens with the club, it’s all been positive and I’m here,” Medran said. “I’ve just been preparing myself, taking care of what I can take care of and anything that makes the club better and is positive for the club, I’m here for. It’s all been pretty good.”
Medran said he and Wicky haven’t talked specifically about what his role will be this season. But Medran did say Wicky wants him to be an important part of the 2020 Fire.
“I just have to be in the best physical condition and be in my best shape so I can give my maximum effort for this team and be an important part and a consistent part of this team,” Medran said. “I understood it clearly, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”