Alex finally adapting to physical play of MLS
BY SETH GRUEN For Sun-Times Media June 18, 2013 10:58PM
Chicago Fire v Sporting Kansas City
Updated: July 20, 2013 6:51AM
When the Fire signed Brazilian midfielder Alex last summer, he brought the kind offensive ability clubs around the world seek when scouting a professional player in his native country.
After playing in a more technically driven Swiss league, however, Alex struggled to find ways to integrate his finesse style of play into the more physically taxing Major League Soccer.
Having spent nearly a year training with the Fire now, Alex has recently emerged as a key component for the Fire as the team embarks on one of its busiest times in the unbalanced MLS schedule.
“I’ve been more adapted now that I’ve been here for over a year,” Alex said through an interpreter.
“It’s a very, very physical league that it’s taken me longer than expected. But I think I’m getting there.”
With their game Wednesday against the Colorado Rapids at Toyota Park, the Fire begins a stretch of three games in seven days. During that stretch, Fire coach Frank Klopas will almost assuredly rotate his central midfielders, which will yield time to Alex.
The Fire needs to gain points in the standings. That increases the likelihood of Klopas starting someone like Alex who has the ability to push the game for a team looking for wins and not settling for ties.
Over the past several games, Alex has proven to be an asset as an offensive catalyst for the Fire.
Particularly in the Fire’s 2-1 win over Columbus Thursday in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup, he showed how effective he can be in the MLS. By breaking down the Crew in the midfield, Alex was the team’s offensive playmaker. But he also proved he can be a two-way player.
“He’s a guy that gives us a lot going forward,” Klopas said. “His ability to beat guys off the dribble creates chances for him and his teammates. But also [he] helps without the ball and that’s the key.”