Designated Player

Rodriguez: Schweinsteiger can help club achieve "higher standard of excellence"

Nelson Rodriguez

The latest piece to the puzzle is now in place.

GM Nelson Rodriguez and head coach Veljko Paunovic completed their lengthy pursuit of world-class German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, announcing today that the 32-year-old reigning World Cup champion is on his way to the Men In Red.

“It’s not often that you can add a player of Bastian’s pedigree, but more important, someone who we feel is the perfect embodiment of the club we are and the club we continue to aspire to be,” Rodriguez said. “Bastian is a gentleman, a sportsman, but no one doubts his abilities, his character, and obviously no one’s going to take away the championship nature of his performances.”

For as long as Fire leadership had to wait to negotiate Schweinsteiger’s release from Manchester United, they can take comfort in knowing that the Bayern Munich legend will be joining up with his new club sooner than later.

“We are of the belief that this move will make us a better soccer team,” Rodriguez said. “It improves our locker room and our quest to continue not only to add a leader, but a role model. Someone that all of our players -- not just our younger guys like Djordje Mihailovic or Matt Polster, Brandon Vincent and Jonathan Campbell -- but even guys like Juninho and Dax (McCarty) and Nemanja (Nikolic) and Michael de Leeuw can look to and see how to model themselves in order to achieve a highest standard of excellence.”

Rodriguez: Schweinsteiger can help club achieve "higher standard of excellence" -
Rodriguez: Schweinsteiger can help club achieve "higher standard of excellence" -

Schweinsteiger’s addition will no doubt bring with it new and critical eyes from all over the globe watching how he transitions into Paunovic’s side. With an increased international spotlight now fixated on the club, Rodriguez is confident that he’ll be able to look back on this particular move as one of which both he and the club can be proud.

“When I was granted the opportunity to fulfill my dream job and take this one, I also knew that -- given my age -- that this would be it,” Rodriguez said. “If we didn’t achieve success, the likelihood of my being able to stay in professional soccer was going to be severely diminished. I think ultimately we’ll be judged by wins and losses. However, I have thought about this proposition as being the chief decision, if you will, and I would say this -- if I have to go down, and I go down with one of the greatest champions in the history of soccer, I’ll feel pretty good that I made a good choice.”

Now, with the addition of Schweinsteiger, a Fire midfield that already was rated by some as among the best in MLS now boasts one of the world’s top midfielders of his generation. All eyes will be on the Men In Red moving forward to see how Veljko Paunovic opts to deploy the likes of Dax McCarty, Juninho and Schweinsteiger in the middle of the pitch. Whatever the answer, there’s no denying the quality, leadership and winning pedigree the Fire now possess centrally.

“He is rather singular,” Rodriguez said. “He is rather unique in all of that vast experience that he brings along with the attitude and willingness to share it, his desire to try to make things great, not simply better…This is a call to our entire club, that we need to step up our entire game and meet that challenge and meet that level.”

“With today’s global age, he is a global image. And his football is still pretty damn good.”