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Q&A With Carlos Bocanegra

Q&A with Carlos Bocanegra
June 18, 2007 We know that Chicago is one of your favorite cities. What’s the first thing you did when you got back here?

CB: “We went to Lalo’s for some Mexican food. It’s one of my favorite places to go. Got some carne asada, enchiladas, ceviche, chips and guacamole … everything. You can’t really get good Mexican food in England. It’s a great city, and I’m super excited to be back. The most important thing is to win the Gold Cup. It would be pretty sweet to win it back in Chicago at Soldier Field.” You spent the first four years of your professional career playing for the Fire. What do you remember about playing at Soldier Field?

CB: “I just remember that the Fire was really hard to beat there. It was like a fortress. A few of the other guys from MLS have said that. The fans were fantastic, and it made for a great environment.” The Fire organization had quickly established itself as one of the great clubs in the league, both on and off the field. What did playing here teach you about tradition?

CB: “I was one of the younger guys coming in. The Fire hadn’t even been around that long, but you had Peter, Lubos [Kubik], Zach Thornton, Chris Armas, Ante Razov, Jesse Marsch, C.J. Brown … all these guys were there and they had accomplished things already. It was nice to be thrown into that mix. They taught us to play our hardest every time we stepped on the field and always be positive. The fans really got into it, and it just became a winning way. I was going out there expecting to win, and I’ve tried to keep that mentality with me throughout my career. It was one of the better teams in the history of MLS, and being on a quality team like that really taught me a lot.” Bob Bradley, who was your coach here in Chicago, has chosen you to wear the captain’s armband a couple times in this tournament. What did he tell you about the role, and what has it been like for you?

CB: “He said I’ve been doing a good job and to keep it up. Obviously there are some guys who need to step up and take a bigger leadership. Some of us that were younger during the World Cup are now the veterans. For me, it’s an honor to lead your country. It’s a tough feeling to put into words.” Does your approach to your job change once you’ve been handed that responsibility?

CB: “I haven’t changed too much. I don’t usually yell too much off the field, and on the field I am already pretty vocal in the back as part of my job. I’ll keep trying to lead by example. I don’t this makes me any cooler or anything like that (laughs).” Speaking of responsibilities, what are some of the duties you have to deal with as captain?

CB: “There are a few little things that you don’t think about. For example, as a group we collect money at the end of every trip for the trainers, who work really long hours and don’t get paid that much. It was weird being the guy going around to ask for money and hand over an envelope stuffed with cash. On the field, you have all the extra ceremonial things like the coin toss and exchanging banners.” And of course, leading the team out onto the field …

CB: “Yeah, I thought of that one because you always see the captain walking out right in front of the goalie when the teams come out onto the field. It’s kind of weird. You walk out and look over your shoulder to make sure everyone is following you.”