On a weekend of fireworks, Ignacio Aliseda set off some of his own at Soldier Field on Saturday night in the Fire’s 3-0 win over Atlanta United.
Twenty-six games into his MLS career, Aliseda needed a breakout game. A designated player signing before the 2020 season, Aliseda showed the quality on which the Fire based their reported $3 million+ investment to sign him from Defensa in Argentina only in spurts through his first season and played only 314 minutes in the first ten matches of his second.
With two first half goals (the first multi-goal game of his professional career) and an assist for Przemyslaw Frankowski for the Fire’s third, Aliseda provided a perfect pregame performance for the city’s Fourth of July celebrations on the lakefront.
“Last night I fell asleep knowing I would have the strength and confidence today that I needed,” said Aliseda, crediting his family back home in Argentina as the source. “I hope that it’s a great start for me… Last year wasn’t necessarily my best, but coming in this year and having injuries and overcoming that, and feeling the confidence from the other players and from my coach makes me want to look forward and gives me the confidence to look ahead and keep working hard.”
“Tonight he showed his determination to go towards goal, that’s something we were talking about with him for a long time,” said head coach Raphael Wicky. “We want to see more determination from him going into 1-v-1s, going towards the goal, and his goals showed that today…. It was important for him that he got that feeling, how it feels to score goals.”
In support of Aliseda’s star turn, Alvaro Medran delivered a second-consecutive standout performance as the team’s midfield conductor alongside Fabian Herbers in a double pivot. He wasn’t on the scoresheet, but continued success for the Fire will rely on more such excellent displays.
“I’m doing well, but I had a talk with coach and he asked me to give more of myself, to put in more effort, to give more Alvaro and I took that to heart,” Medran said. “I need to give the best of myself yes for my individual results, but more for the team results.”
In all of his answers to questions, however, Medran was insistent on redirecting attention to the team’s performance rather than his own.
“More than any tactical change, the change in attitude is what’s made the difference,” Medran said of the team’s improved energy in the last two games. “I think when we get together and all of the players and the coach have the same vision and mind, you can see the results on the field.”
With the debut of the Burnham Downs pregame fan fest outside Soldier Field, the Fire’s demolition of (an admittedly depleted) Atlanta seized of a vital opportunity to refocus attention on a team that, despite playing inside an iconic Chicago landmark, has been off the radar and out of the spotlight in a crowded Chicago sports scene.
Aliseda knows that he has a part to play in generating excitement around the team, and hopes there’s more to come both for his sake and the fans’.
“The atmosphere is beautiful,” he said. “I love to play in front of fans, I think my type of game is better in front of people, I think they like to watch the way I play… They were demanding more from us and I hope this game serves as a jumping-off point.”