One week after introducing himself to Fire fans in a uniquely Chicago way, new Fire FC Designated Player Robert Berić has begun to settle into preseason training among his new teammates and new coaching staff.
Berić, 28, is at the outset of his American adventure after spending nearly five years with Ligue 1 side St. Etienne, where big goals in big moments made him a favorite among the French club's faithful.
With his first week in Chicago behind him, ChicagoFireFC.com caught up with the Slovenian striker to hear about his early adjustments to the Club and his impressions of the city he now calls home.
ChicagoFireFC.com: How did your contact with the Fire begin and what were those early conversations like about the Club?
Robert Berić: "The start was my agent. He called me and told me that Chicago contacted him and that they had interest in me. This was the first conversation about Chicago, about MLS. My first thought was for sure I was interested. I know MLS is becoming more and more interesting. I know also that Chicago is a big city. They have a few big sports here, such as Chicago Fire."
CFFC.com: Having played in Europe your entire career to-date, what made the timing right to make the move overseas?
RB: "I don’t know about the right timing, but I was seeking a new challenge, a new adventure. I think this is the right time to try something new and try MLS. MLS is progressing every year. You have some interesting players playing here, and of course it’s an interesting league. I’m excited to be here."
CFFC.com: In the last several months, the Club has introduced a new owner, a new (old) stadium, a new sporting director, a new coach, a new visual identity, etc. What are your thoughts on the new direction in which the Club is taking?
RB: "I know that everything is new in Chicago. The new owner, the new staff, everything is rebuilding in this moment. I know the coach from before, from Europe. I spoke with him before I came here. This was one additional thing that helped me decide to come here. I think it’s going to be a good thing."
CFFC.com: When it was revealed that you were coming to Chicago, the support and the love from St. Etienne fans came pouring out on social media. What made you a fan favorite in France?
RB: "It’s difficult to say. I spent four-and-a-half years at St. Etienne. The club is like family to me. I met a lot of great people there. I had ups and downs there also, like everywhere, but like I said it’s like a family to me. I think they feel this also. I will stay in good relationship with them."
CFFC.com: In your experience in Europe and playing at the national team level with Slovenia, what makes a successful team in your view?
RB: "For sure it’s a winning mentality. When you have a good group, good coaches, and everyone is staring at the one target -- one ambition -- then for sure I think this is the way to make something good. Hopefully we will make this over these next few months."
CFFC.com: With preseason camp beginning this week, how has your adjustment to the team gone so far?
RB: "Everything is great. Everyone is really kind to me and helping me with everything. I’ve also met all my teammates. Everybody seems really good, so then it’s easier for me. I can only say good things about that."
CFFC.com: You're staying downtown at the Blackstone Hotel. It's only been a few days, but what are your early impressions of the city of Chicago?
RB: "It’s huge. It’s a big city with a lot of big buildings. In one word -- It’s impressive."
CFFC.com: Looking ahead to a potential Soldier Field debut on March 21 against Atlanta United, what is your message to Fire fans ahead of the 2020 season?
RB: "Come support us. We will give everything when we’re at Soldier Field, so we need you. Hopefully we’re going to make good results."