Fire defender Arne Friedrich finding success with new format
BY SETH GRUEN For Sun-Times Media February 19, 2013 10:52PM
Aston Villa’s Gabriel Agbonlahor is tripped up by the Fire’s Arne Friedrich in the first half. | David Banks~Getty Images
Updated: March 21, 2013 6:42AM
Fire defender Arne Friedrich is realizing that he has to put some trust into the very different training methods he’s experiencing in the United States.
Friedrich, who spent nearly a decade playing for the German national team, signed with the Fire just after training camp in 2012.
At his first MLS training camp, Friedrich finds himself practicing once or twice a day. In Germany, he would always train two or three times daily.
But Friedrich realizes that the MLS playoff format dictates he peak at a different time. In Europe, a league champion is determined solely by the standings and the Champions League is played throughout the season.
“Here it’s kind of different because the MLS has two seasons [regular season and playoffs],” Friedrich said. “I definitely trust in [Fire strength and conditioning coach] Tony [Jouaux]. He made me fit so much last season as well.”
Friedrich came to the Fire after retiring from the German national team amid questions about a back injury some thought to be career-threatening.
After a full season of training, however, Friedrich’s only injury was a hamstring pull in May, so it’s understandable why he trusts the Fire coaching staff so much.
Friedrich joined training camp late due to a family event planned before he re-signed with the Fire this offseason. Fire coach Frank Klopas has gradually increased Friedrich’s minutes this preseason and anticipates him playing a full 90 minutes before preseason ends.
“I’ve stated before how important it is to have an opportunity to start from the beginning with the group and go through our preseason phase,” Klopas said. “It gives you a good pace throughout the year.”