At a news conference Tuesday, new Chicago Fire striker Kacper Przybylko made it a point to say positive things about his old team, the Philadelphia Union, where he was the team’s leading scorer in each of the last three seasons. He wasn’t interested in burning bridges.
But he also made it clear, at 29 years old, he wanted to feel wanted, and the Fire rolled out the red carpet.
“Obviously, it was very nice to get even the offer,” Przybylko said. “There was like a big offer, like that’s a huge meaning for someone who is almost 29, getting to their 30s. So the people just to reach out to my agent, like ‘we want him.’ It shows how valued you are. That was one of the things why I decided to consider that.”
It’s not pen to paper yet, but the Fire and Przybylko have verbally agreed to a new, three year guaranteed deal. In Chicago, Przybyko fully expects to be a massive part of the team’s attack—one that, no matter the coach over the last several seasons—has always produced far more chances than it actually finished. Under new head coach Ezra Hendrickson, Przybylko is here to put the ball in the back of the net. With 35 goals, he’s the league’s third leading scorer since his debut in 2019. For this move to be a success, that will have to continue in Chicago.
“When (Sporting Director Georg Heitz) called me, he was like, ‘I want to build a team around you’,” Przybylko said. “Obviously around all the strikers, but we want to be a team that’s like connected, like it doesn’t matter who’s going to score but at the end of the day everyone has to do their jobs.
“It was nice to hear that he came with that great offer and also the vision that, ‘hey, Kacper, you’re going to be in front.’ We want you to feed you with so many balls as we can, and then from there you’re just going to have to do your job and just finish it off. It was nice to hear that. It’s like a huge value to me.”
Przybylko opened his Fire account with a goal in a scrimmage against a semi-pro team from south Florida, and he’ll have another chance to bag a preseason goal against Minnesota United at noon CT on Saturday (streamed live at ChicagoFireFC.com for fans living in the Chicago market). There are still plenty of questions over who the Fire will sign to help bolster this attack, but no matter who joins, Przybylko knows he will be one of this team’s leaders.
“I think I have to be a leader with what I’ve already accomplished in this league,” Przybylko said. “I’m one of the guys who’s with so much experience here. I know it was only three years in the MLS, but I also bring a lot of experience from my past years that I had also in Germany. So I want to be a leader. I want to help the young kids here. Like I said, I want to help the team as much as I can.”
With the departure of Przemyslaw Frankowski over the summer, the trade also gives the Fire another high-profile Polish player to market to the city’s huge Polish population. The Fire’s media team even went to a Polish sausage shop to make a great video announcing the deal.
Let's eat. ️ #cf97 pic.twitter.com/P8fXhvv8T4— Chicago Fire FC (@ChicagoFire) January 22, 2022
“That’s also like a nice part now to see that I’m moving to Chicago,” he said. “I’m here in America, but there’s so many Polish people. Obviously, it’s nice because I want to teach my son also Polish so he probably can go to like maybe a daycare where he can speak both languages. That’s like very important to me and my wife. So I’m very excited to meet all the people there.
“But it’s not just about the Polish people. It’s about everyone in Chicago. I’m looking forward to meet everyone there. That’s so beautiful about my job. I can travel, and I can meet so many different people, different cultures. So I’m really excited for it.”