Chicago Fire: Speaking to Brandt Bronico, who continues to shine

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 25: Chicago Fire midfielder Brandt Bronico (13) shoots the ball in game action during a MLS match between the Chicago Fire and New York City on May 25, 2019 at SeatGeek stadium in Bridgeview, IL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MAY 25: Chicago Fire midfielder Brandt Bronico (13) shoots the ball in game action during a MLS match between the Chicago Fire and New York City on May 25, 2019 at SeatGeek stadium in Bridgeview, IL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

In his third season with the Chicago Fire, Brandt Bronico has continued to prove why he’s one to watch out for in terms of the future of MLS. I spoke with the burgeoning Fire midfielder this week.

Going into Saturday night’s match against Real Salt Lake, Chicago Fire head coach Veljko Paunovic had a problem that needed to be dealt with. Usual starting right-back Johan Kappelhof was unavailable for selection after being ruled out with an injury and potential replacement Przemysław Frankowski had just represented Poland on international duty and was not fit enough to start either. Going up against a dangerous RSL attack, Paunovic knew he had to make the right call if Chicago wanted any chance of getting a result on the night.

He decided to turn to established central midfielder Brandt Bronico, whose stellar performance out of position helped the Men In Red secure a potentially vital point against a quality team. He wasn’t fully comfortable when making forward runs down the wing, but his defensive tenacity was key in shutting down both Sebastian Saucedo and Brooks Lennon.

‘It always feels good to play and contribute,’ said Bronico when I spoke to him this week. ‘The staff helped prepare me very well and I took a confident approach to playing that role.’

His versatility has made Bronico a crucial member of the Fire roster. As a natural roaming central midfielder, he can somewhat freely float around the field to find space and time on the ball. He can drop into a more defensive role to provide cover to the backline when needed, but he’s just as comfortable venturing further up the field and playing the final pass in an attacking move. Hell, he can even probably even play up top!

He also might just be the hardest working player in all of MLS. Constantly in the gym or on the practice field improving, Bronico simply loves the grind. That is summed up with #Grindset, a hashtag that has become so much more in terms of motivation on and off the field. ‘The #Grindset is a mix between the physical and mental aspect to not only soccer, but everyday life,’ said Bronico. ‘My buddy Matt Dunphey and I came up with it when we were talking about the grind and the mindset and figured we could combine the words to make it sound a bit better.’

Now, Bronico is in the midst of his third season with the Chicago Fire, which is usually the most crucial. After getting the chance to learn and adapt in their first two years, the pressure is put on players of his kind to start performing or risk getting released. Luckily for Bronico, he has been able to benefit from playing with two of the best MLS has ever seen.

‘I think I have learned a lot in my first couple of years at the club, and playing under Dax [McCarty] and Bastian [Schweinsteiger] has helped,’ said Bronico. ‘The most crucial things I have learned is how important developing your first touch is, and then your awareness off the ball. Basti and Dax are two extremely good players who execute both of these factors very well and that is what I have tried to pick up from them, while also seeking more individual advice about how I can become a better player.’

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As for the Fire, it hasn’t been the best season so far on the field. Chicago have lost more games than they’ve won and they currently sit below the playoff line in the Eastern Conference. However, they are level on points with seventh place Toronto FC and still have plenty of time to put together a late-season surge. With the amount of talent on the roster, there is still plenty of hope for playoff soccer in Chicago once again.

‘I think we are unfortunate to not be in a better position than where we are right now,’ said Bronico. ‘We have a lot of talented players, and we create a lot of chances. I have the confidence in this team that we can start getting results.’

Even if it doesn’t come together this year, the future is still bright for the Fire. There is plenty of young depth alongside Bronico in the middle of the park. 22-year-old Mo Adams has starred in the past while Djordje Mihailovic already has caps for the United States Men’s National Team at the age of 20. The Chicago Fire were also able to re-sign Bronico earlier in the season as well, potentially keeping him in Chicago through 2022.

Next. Chicago Fire Vs Real Salt Lake: 3 things we learned. dark

‘Honestly, it felt amazing to re-sign,’ said Bronico. ‘I love the Fire, and everyone from the front office, to the coaching staff, to my teammates, and the city itself. I am really happy here, and the faith and belief put in me by management really makes me happy as well.’ And now that faith and belief is seeing Bronico shine.