Saturday’s draw against the New England Revolution was bad for a myriad of reasons. It broke the five-win streak the Chicago Fire had going on this season – in which if they scored a goal first they would win the game. It marked the end of a home win streak against the Revs dating back to 2013. It also showed how far the club would go to silence their passionate fanbase.
Despite the bad coal fueling the Fire, there are some diamonds in the rough starting to come out from the dark smoke.
With Matt Polster out for the foreseeable future, the Fire’s backline has been adequate at best. Johan Kappelhof has done everything he could to keep the fort down and even Bastian Schweinsteiger had to play some heroball from the back from time to time. However, there is another player who is quietly doing his best to keep the Fire afloat in this season.
Jorge Corrales has had quite a journey over the past few years. After leaving his hometown club FC Pinar del Rio where he scored six times and had 20 assists, the 27-year-old Cuban international moved stateside to Florida where he played for three clubs including the now-defunct Fort Lauderdale Strikers. He later moved to Oklahoma, where he played for the Tulsa Roughnecks for the 2017 season. The Fire acquired him during the second part of the season where he was immediately loaned back to Tulsa.
Fast forward to the present day and Corrales has found himself in the starting line-up, filling a gaping hole at fullback. His first start for the team was the 2-1 win against Orlando City. With a quiet but solid performance, he found himself once again starting in the left in the 3-1 loss against the Philadelphia Union. There he struggled quite a bit especially during the 50th minute where an error on his part led to the second goal.
Despite that, Veljiko Paunovic saw something in Corrales to place him in the starting line-up against the San Jose Earthquakes. Corrales repaid Pauno for his faith with a solid outing. He later proved himself once again to Pauno and the Fire faithful with another strong performance in the US Open Cup game against the Columbus Crew.
But that quiet Saturday night against the Revs is where Corrales began shining like a diamond. During the first half of the game where it looked like most players from both sides were frustrated, Corrales looked confident. From the left, he defended well and ran down the sides of the pitch looking to feed Luis Solignac and Aleksander Katai. He also did well to earn set pieces at crucial moments of the game.
At the end of the game, Pauno said, “We’re still young in terms of committing mistakes and we’ll get better. I think it’s a process.”
Corrales is a model of that statement. He’s made some mistakes early on in the season, but as time passes by he’ll be shining brightly.