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Bastian Schweinsteiger encouraged by early signs from Fire

Bastian Schweinsteiger challenges for the ball with Columbus Crew SC midfielder Artur during a preseason game in Charleston, South Carolina. | Courtesy of Chicago Fire Soccer Club

Believe it or not, it’s already Bastian Schweinsteiger’s third season with the Fire.

“Time is flying almost, I must say,” Schweinsteiger said.

During a phone interview with the Sun-Times, Schweinsteiger said he really enjoys being with the franchise and in Chicago. The people of the city, Chicago’s passion for sports, and the Fire organization and its fans suit the 34-year-old, who signed with the club in March 2017 and re-upped for a third season in November.

So far, he’s encouraged by what the Fire have done to build a successful third season, which continues with Saturday’s home opener against Orlando City. Even though the Fire lost 2-1 to the LA Galaxy in their season opener, Schweinsteiger is seeing positives. Newcomer C.J. Sapong scored, and fellow new Fire players David Ousted and Przemysław Frankowski had strong games.

And though they lost, the Fire showed flashes of what could be an entertaining style to watch and a difficult one to contain. The team made additions (and potentially more are on the way), and the performance in LA gave Schweinsteiger and his teammates confidence, while exposing areas they can get better.

“We just have to minimize making the wrong decisions and be a little bit (more opportunistic),” Schweinsteiger said.

At this point, there’s no reason to rehash Schweinsteiger’s resume. He’s won pretty much everything a player can win, and nothing that he does or doesn’t do with the Fire will change his legacy in the sport. But despite that, losing still bothers him. He hates to be second best and thinks there’s always a reason for defeats.

However, he can also appreciate growth when he sees it. Unsurprisingly, that improvement doesn’t have to be spectacularly obvious.

“We missed playing 95 minutes on a good level (against the Galaxy). Although that’s my goal and I try to work to that, at the end of the day, of course you say you’re successful when you win the games or a trophy,” Schweinsteiger said. “For me, personally, it’s also when I see improvement.

“Sometimes it’s small things like a good pass, or a combination. Some smart ideas on the field, and I leave the stadium with a happy face.”

Because of his standing in the sport, his experience and his fame, Schweinsteiger is an example to his teammates. He wants them to see him working hard and toward the same objectives, and to understand what they’re working for, and why.

If that happens, things have a better chance of clicking, and Schweinsteiger can still satisfy a desire that hasn’t been dulled despite international stardom and numerous winner’s medals from the sport’s glitziest competitions.

“Of course, I dream of winning a trophy with the Chicago Fire,” Schweinsteiger said. “That’s my goal, because it’s just in my blood. That needs everybody to believe in that and to work and to improve, especially on game day. On a match day, you want to see that on the field.”

NOTE: The Fire loaned forward Elliot Collier to Memphis 901 FC of the USL Championship.