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New Chicago Fire player Daniel Paladini through the eyes of W. Jarrett Campbell - Founder Triangle Soccer Fanatics

Photo courtesy of W. Jarrett Campbell and Triangle Soccer Fanatics
Photo courtesy of W. Jarrett Campbell and Triangle Soccer Fanatics

With the signing of Daniel Paladini now official, we asked a couple of people closest to Paladini's Carolina RailHawks some questions about the 26 year-old midfielder.  HTIOT first turns to W. Jarrett Campbell, Founder Triangle Soccer Fanatics

Triangle Soccer Fanatics is a group of soccer fans in the Raleigh-Cary-Durham-Chapel Hill area who love the Beautiful Game and love to get together and share their passion with other soccer fans.  Like Section 8 Chicago is to the Chicago Fire, TSF is an independent supporters club of the Carolina RailHawks.  Unlike Section 8, TSF is also a local RDU-base chapter of the American Outlaws, a USMNT supporters group.  Jarrett was kind of enough to answer five questions we asked him via E-mail.  The results of our Q&A are below.

1. What was your first memory of Daniel Paladini?  What is your favorite memory of Daniel Paladini?

I first saw Daniel play during the RailHawks' tryouts back in December of 2008.  The team was having open trials and there were several hundred players, both local amateurs and professionals from around the world trying to catch our new coach's eye.  Paladini's poise on the ball and field vision was clearly a step above most others at the trial and you could tell he had a good chance of making the team. Afterwards, our supporters club had a "Meet the New Coach" event with Martin Rennie who had just taken the reigns of the team and Rennie brought some of his new signings to the meet and greet.  He included Danny in the players he brought so it was clear that he had seen the same thing we observed while watching the tryouts.

My favorite memory of Danny's playing days at Carolina were a series of a couple of road games in late May / early June last year.  The RailHawks were on a roadtrip to Puerto Rico and Portland, two places we notoriously have had trouble getting results.  Paladini didn't start either match, Rennie electing to save him as a second-half substitute to inject pace and verve into the final third of the match.  In both games, Danny scored free kick goals in stoppage time to give us the win at Puerto Rico and a draw in Portland...4 big road points on the back of two well-struck set pieces.

More with W. Jarrett Campbell on Daniel Paladini after the break...

2. What formation do you think that Daniel Paladini would shine in the best?  The 2011 Chicago Fire will most likely play a 4-1-4-1 or a 4-1-3-2 formation with Logan Pause being the defensive midfielder in either formation.  Where would Daniel Paladini best fit given that setup?

Daniel is a playmaking central midfielder, about as close to a natural #10 as you would have seen in USSF Division II.  He has a great ability to control the tempo of the game, slowing down the ball in midfield to let his defense recover, and then quickly spearheading the attack.  While obviously it is not quite fair to compare him to someone of the class of Claudio Reyna, his style of play reminds me very much of the role that Reyna played for the US National Team.

Maybe a fairer comparison would be to former Fire and Fire Premier midfielder Brian Plotkin.  Danny and Brian both signed with the RailHawks in 2009 and they both played the same position in very much the same way.  Over time, it became clear that Paladini had taken his opportunities to make the position his and eventually would win the RailHawks MVP for his performances in that role.
Paladini will best serve the Fire playing in front of Logan and being one of the key links forward in the transition from defense to offense.

 3. From the background that I have collected on Daniel Paladini, he seems to be a free kick specialist. Do you think that free kick talent will translate in Major League Soccer?

If the RailHawks got a free kick from 20-35 yards out, we wanted Danny on the ball.  He seemed to have any uncanny knack for knowing whether to go for goal or try to curl the ball onto the head of one of our target forwards.  Obviously the keepers in MLS are going to be harder to beat, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Paladini score a handful of goals (or assists) from set pieces.

4. What trait of Paladini do you think will help the Fire the most? 

It's hard to identify a particular trait, but I'd say it's more of how all his different assets come together to form a solid midfielder.  He combines good field vision, decision making, and passing, with an intensity that makes him a great competitor.  On the other side of the coin, he's able to meter that intensity and stay out of trouble – I don't recall a time in his two years with the RailHawks where Daniel let the excitement or competitiveness get the better of him and get himself, or the team, into trouble by doing something foolish and bookable.

5. Being the Founder of Triangle Soccer Fanatics, what do the fans of Section 8 Chicago have the most to look forward to in Daniel Paladini?

The thing though that I'll miss most personally and that Fire fans will get a chance to enjoy is my personal interaction with Danny off the field. Paladini always had time to chat to with the supporters and I got to know him quite well as he was a coach at the club where my son plays U10 soccer.  Danny was an incredible youth soccer coach and you should have seen how the kids hung on every word and tip from their favorite RailHawk at training.

As Chicago is "my" MLS team (my employer is based in Palatine and I find myself in Chicago often), I look forward to my first chance to visit Bridgeview and cheer on Paladini with the rest of Section 8.

- End of Q&A

Many thanks to Jarrett for that insight and it is always great to discover Chicago Fire fans across the world.  North Carolina is Chicago Fire Country.