Since making a brief, 24 minute appearance against the New England Revolution in the opening match of the 2021 season, Ignacio Aliseda has been out for every game since.
The Chicago Fire designated player has been struggling with a tricky left thigh injury since preseason, but it appears he may finally be ready to play this Saturday against CF Montreal (noon CT, WGN and CFFC Live). Aliseda is taking part in full team training, and is day-to-day, according to Fire head coach Raphael Wicky.
Aliseda called his injury setback “complicated,” and hopes it’s now a thing of the past.
“I’m doing well,” Aliseda said via Fire translator Elizabeth Sanchez. “Doing very well. I think being injured helped me to see some things, some good things and some bad things that sometimes when you’re in the thick of it, you don’t always know this. And I think that in the preseason, I was doing very well and I had it in me to start the season off well but there are things that happened, and this is one of those things that just happened and it wasn’t expected, but it is what it is.”
With just one goal for the club thus far, the Argentinian playmaker has admitted his 2020 season for the Fire wasn’t really up to his standards. He was perhaps hit harder than any other player on the team by the isolation caused by the pandemic. Aliseda said being alone, in a foreign country, away from his family for the first time was rough.
“It does affect me,” he said. “It changes because I grew up really close to my mom. I’m close to my brothers and sisters, too, but just growing up, I was always with her, and she just, you know, lights my path and takes care of me in that different way. So I know that when she’s in the stadium, it motivates me in a different way.
“In Argentina growing up, she did her best to be there and she went to every stadium no matter which stadium it was, as a visitor or if it was a home game, she was always there. And just the sacrifices and all the effort she put into helping me when I was growing up and knowing that now I can do that for her, it’s really going to give me extra motivation and give me plus motivation when she’s here in Chicago.”
This season, the Fire lost four straight matches while Aliseda was out dealing with his injury, before finally winning last weekend against Inter Miami. During that stretch, Aliseda said he learned some things.
“You always learn a lot when you’re on the outside, and I think what I learned was to be a better teammate, to be there supporting our players and my teammates more,” Aliseda said. “Because when you’re in there, sometimes you don’t necessarily feel it, or when you’re not doing so well, it’s always nice to feel the support from your teammates.”
Right or wrong, Aliseda’s designated player title, and the high salary that goes along with it, means fans expect more from him than most of his teammates. Now, he’ll have the chance to prove he’s worth his contract, and that starts by helping the Fire take three points against Montreal.
“I think looking forward to Saturday, we are going to be able to get a streak going where we are going to do a lot of good things,” he said.