October 28, 2013
GONE FROM THE WINDY CITY?
Lindpere: 'most likely my last game' for Chicago
By Michael Lewis
HARRISON, N.J. -- Before he left Red Bull Arena on Sunday, Chicago Fire midfielder Joel Lindpere stopped by the Red Bulls locker room to offer his former teammates some congratulations for winning the Supporters Shield and farewell for the season.
He just might be telling his Fire teammates goodbye -- for good.
Lindpere sounded like a man ready to jump into new challenges after the Fire lost to the Red Bulls, 5-2, in the season finale for both teams. The loss ended Chicago's contention in its quest for an MLS playoff berth.
He said it was "most likely it was the last game for me in [the] Chicago Fire jersey."
The 32-year-old Lindpere did not like the fact he did not start all 34 matches for Chicago under coach Frank Klopas.
"I'm going home and see," he said in the hallway outside the Red Bulls locker room. "When I am fit and doing good, and I have most assists, I want to play. I have been playing maybe 26 games, but my level is to take part in at least 30 games in this league. When I'm fit, then I under understand why I don't play. When nobody tells me why I am not playing, I have to figure it out myself."
Lindpere took a swipe at coach Frank Klopas as he indicated that the Fire's training sessions were not necessarily up to snuff.
"With our quality, we should do better, but I think it's not about one player. It's about the whole team, the whole staff," he said. "I think it started from practices. That's what we were missing this year, the good practices, the whole team with every single player. And that's makes the difference of a strong team and a little less stronger team."
Still, Lindpere thanked the Fire "for the experience that they gave me."
"I've been doing good. I helped Mike [Magee] with my assists, hopefully the Golden Boot. I have a lot of assists. It was most in my four years. I will keep working and keep playing. So, that's not a problem."
For the record, Lindpere finished the season with an MLS career-high eight assists in 25 games -- he started 17-- while Magee finished second in the Golden Boot race to Vancouver's Camilo Sanvezzo (21 to 22 goals).
Lindpere admitted he did not know if he would return to Major League Soccer for a fifth season in 2014. He played for the Red Bulls from 2010-2012.
"I don't know," he said. "It depends. I'm am very used to the league. I know all the players. I know how to keep my self fit and how to react. the warm climate it helps me. This season I have been healthiest in my last four years. I have been working a lot. I [turned] 32 this month, a couple of weeks ago. I have been doing some special work and stuff. Let's see how it works out."
The Estonian international began the match on the bench, but came on as a substitute for Gonzalo Segares in the 75th minute. Lindpere received a nice ovation from the crowd and he applauded back at them.
The stadium, which had been rocking for a good portion of the second half while the Red Bulls transformed a 1-1 tie into a 5-1 advantage, went silent in the 90th minute. That's when Lindpere's corner kick set up Quincy Amarikwa with Chicago's second goal.
Lindpere certainly enjoyed his return to Red Bull Arena after he was traded in January. He turned into one of the team's most popular players for his work ethic during the coaching tenure of Hans Backe.
"It's amazing. It's been a pleasure," he said. "It's always been my favorite place to play. It feels like home. At the moment I stepped onto the field I saw people giving me applause. I got to the warm-up and people just want to talk to me, shout to me. It's amazing. What a great feeling.
"Unfortunately, I had one assist against them. I finished the season good."
And now, he might be finished with the Fire.