After not having a clear leader before last season, the Fire now have two big personalities leading the way in Dax McCarty and Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Both made an early impression on rookie midfielder Mo Adams, who also left an impression of sorts on McCarty.
“The first training session we had, I got a little kick from Mo Adams and I enjoyed that, I enjoyed that quite a bit actually,” McCarty said. “I like young players and I like rookies that have attitude and that have personality and that aren’t afraid of supposed bigger guys or veteran guys. I really enjoy that. He apologized to me after that and I was like, ‘Hey, don’t worry about it man. This is competition. I love it.’”
Adams, selected 10th in Friday’s draft by the Fire after trading up for the pick, said he didn’t want to change anything about himself as a player just because he was a rookie.
“I’m the kind of guy that will get stuck into challenges and stuff,” Adams said. “It’s what brought me here and I’m going to continue doing that. I think I’ve got great mentors in Dax and obviously Bastian and I’m going to kind of remain grounded and see what they do and just try to get that on board and of course their experience and stuff, there’s a lot to take in, but I’m certainly shocked that I call them my teammates right now. It’s a fantastic experience.”
The Englishman recalled his first time meeting Schweinsteiger and told the story with a grin on his face.
“He sits across me in the locker room,” Adams said. “I remember the first time he walked in, I shook his hand and I was like ‘What’s up, man?’ I’ve watched this guy throughout his years in the Bundesliga and I’m a [Manchester] United fan, too, so watching him play in the Premier League was amazing. Now to play alongside him in practice and hopefully games in the future is going to be something to look forward to.”
Adams plays in central midfield and will likely be the backup to Schweinsteiger and McCarty. McCarty was captain of the New York Red Bulls before the Fire traded for him and Schweinsteiger’s resume tends to draw respect from opponents and teammates. Both players have turned into the faces of the Fire and give younger players like Adams recognizable figures to gravitate towards.
For Schweinsteiger, returning to the Fire and getting a full preseason to prepare after joining three games into the season last year is a notable difference from a year ago.
“I remember the first game was not easy on the field to remember who is who, you know the names,” Schweinsteiger said of his Fire debut last April. “Of course I settled in and for me it’s very important to have a preseason and work... on a lot of things that we are prepared for the long season. Last year it was not so easy. We still, I think, did very well, but of course I think it’s going to be an advantage now to work together from the first day on.”
While Schweinsteiger is with the team in the preseason, more additions are still expected. Rafael Ramos is the only player added so far this offseason who isn’t a rookie and he likely won’t be a regular starter. McCarty doesn’t think having players arrive in the middle of the preseason is problematic.
“I think you can look at it two ways,” McCarty said. “Yeah, it’s great to have everyone that you’re going to have going forward in preseason so you can get some continuity. Guys can get to know each other’s tendencies, but I think you can also look at it like when Basti came in. He didn’t have a preseason with us. He came in three or four games into the season and didn’t miss a beat. He made us better right away so if you’re signing players of that quality and that caliber I don’t think it really matters if they have a preseason or not.”