As the second half began in the Chicago Fire's match at Sporting Kansas City on Sept. 11, midfielder Federico Navarro took his first footsteps in the Club's colors at last.
After his signing was announced on Aug. 6, the Argentine midfielder joined the team for training in the week prior to the KC trip and was fit enough to make a stout impression in his 45-minute debut.
As his assimilation into the squad continues with the season entering its final stretch, Navarro sat down at Chicago’s Blackstone Hotel to discuss his ambitions for the Fire now that he’s arrived and his reception into the city he now calls home.
Read the full Q&A (translated from Spanish and edited for clarity) below:
CFFC: How did it feel to finally arrive in Chicago?
Federico Navarro: “The truth is that it’s lovely. I couldn’t get here fast enough. It’s a beautiful city. And I was very anxious to join the rest of the group.”
CFFC: What were your immediate impressions of the city when you first saw it?
FN: “For me and for my wife it was like out of the movies. It’s something I don’t think we even dreamed about, being in this city, and now, well, there must be a reason that this path opened up and we were able to take it.”
CFFC: How did you learn of the interest from the Chicago Fire?
FN: “Through my agent. In truth, this had been in the works for a while and coming to the Chicago Fire became a priority.”
CFFC: How much did you know about MLS before coming here?
FN: “I started getting to know the league little by little because a lot of Argentines were playing here, and I think it’s a league that has grown from bottom to top and now is one of the best leagues in the world. And I’m going to try to give the best of myself and try to maintain a high level in this league."
CFFC: Many Argentines have said that that they learned about the league through teammates that came to play in MLS. When was the first time that you watched a game or heard about a player who came to MLS?
FN: “Luckily, I had many teammates who are playing here in MLS and I think that’s where I began to watch it more closely. Not only that, but my teammates are very good players who came to this league to be able to contribute, to keep improving as players and I think that’s how I began to watch it.”
CFFC: How has your time playing in Argentina prepared you for this next step in your career and how motivated are you to do well?
FN: “I think that all these years I’ve been waiting to take that leap and to do it in this way. I think that I was prepared well. My head was prepared for this moment and I’m going to try to perform at my best from wherever I’m put.”
CFFC: For fans who may be unfamiliar with your style of play, how would you describe yourself as a midfielder?
FN: “I think I’m a player that can inflate the team a little, that can give the team a lot of balance, and give the team a burst of air. As I said before, I think that I can give some breathing room for the players who create situations, who are constantly asking for the ball, I think I can give them a little bit of that.
CFFC: How helpful is it to have a few players on the team who have also come from Argentina?
FN: “The truth is that it helps a lot. It helps a lot in terms of adapting, in the game itself, in having confidence. For everything. I think that it’s something that’s going to help me a lot.”
CFFC: Did you have any familiarity with Ignacio Aliseda and Gaston Gimenez already?
FN: “I knew Nacho Aliseda because we’re in the same age group. I’ve face him in the lower levels in Argentina. And I faced Gastón Giménez in the first division so I was familiar with them and I think they’re very good players.”
CFFC: What ambitions do you have for your time in Chicago?
FN: “Short-term I think it’s to qualify for playoffs. I think that we’re going to do everything possible to obtain that and, well, from there’s we’ll see along the way."
CFFC: How excited are you to play in front of the Chicago fans at Soldier Field for the first time?
FN: “I’m really excited. It’s a beautiful stadium, and I can’t play there fast enough.”
CFFC: What message do you have to the fans as they look forward to seeing you play?
FN: “That I’m going to try to give my all for this shirt, for this Club, and thank you for the support.”