Here is a little interview I did with Fire (and Malian National Team) defender Bakary Soumare prior to last Saturday's match against Tigres UANL. I found Baky to be a very nice guy and he gave a good interview as well, touching on his experiences with Mali and his return to the Fire. Check it out below. **Describe your experiences playing for Mali in its recent World Cup Qualifying matches:**
It was fun, just like every other national team game I've been a part of. These were a little bit different because I played my first game at home which was just fantastic. It was a great atmosphere, a great crowd, I had a lot of fun I just wished the results went a little differently (Mali lost to Ghana and beat Benin in the latest round of qualifying). I wish we could have won the first one but that's how soccer goes, we played well we just didn't do well enough to win the game
**On playing a key role (he started both matches) for his country, Mali:**
It's important to just come in and get one start after another. To get in and contribute, do well, and help the team out was very important to me. It was another challenge but so far it's been fantastic. I can't complain at all, the family is proud, the country is proud; it's been a lot of fun.
**Before choosing to play for Mali, you gave some thought to playing for the American national team. Any regrets on your decision?**
No, no regrets at all. I'm very happy with the decision. I've thought about it before but you can't just look back and have regrets you know? Things happen the way they did because that's how God decided for things to be. It's been fantastic though and I don't think I'll ever regret the decision.
**On the experience of playing with world class players (like Barcelona's Seydou Keita) while with the national team:**
It's a lot of fun. It's good to have a mix of guys that are playing in big teams in Spain and France and all doing really well. But at the same time you envy those guys a little bit but it makes you work harder and it shows you where you fit in against top competition, I enjoy it.
**With only three matches left in qualifying, you are currently 5 points behind Ghana (and securing a spot in the World Cup) in your group. How do you guys plan on getting back in the race?**
It's tough because now we can't lose or tie again; we've got to win all the games coming through. Unfortunately we don't have our destiny in our own hands. We're going to hope that Ghana loses along the way and then that makes the last game in Accra (Mali and Ghana face off in the final qualifying match, on 11/14) capital. It would turn the last game into a 'winner goes to the World Cup' situation and hopefully we can make it happen.
**On what qualifying for the World Cup would mean to Mali:**
It would be something never seen before. I almost want to say it will be the biggest event since the independence. It's just so many people's dreams, so many of us players, coaches, people that have been around soccer; really it's an entire country's dream. It would be unbelievable, the biggest day of the country since the independence.
**How does it feel to be back in Chicago with the Fire?**
It's fantastic. The national team was fun but you start missing your team your teammates and you want to get back to playing with your club. I'm happy to be back and I want to come back and contribute to help my team and continue what we started. The guys have been doing well and I'm just going to come and help out. But it definitely feels great coming back and hanging out with teammates and stuff.
**On the Fire's next MLS match, this Saturday at Colorado:**
We got to get back on the right track. Colorado has been doing well, they're a tough team at home and we don't have a great record playing against them in Colorado but we're going to try to turn the tables around and I think we can do it. We have a great team, a good group of guys and I think playing in the SuperLiga games and doing well has given us a boost of confidence.
**On the Fire missing a lot of players due to international play:**
That's how it is man. Every time you play on a great team guys are going to get called up for the national team and that's what we want.
You have no idea how excited I was to hear that [Fire midfielder Logan Pause] got called up to the Gold Cup. It was fantastic, I was just so happy when I saw that. And guys like [Fire goalie Jon Busch] too, I mean he deserves it. For two years he's been fantastic for us between the pipes and it's just great.
As a player you love it when one of your teammates goes away. You know it sucks for the team a little bit because it creates a hole but we have guys that can step in and help us. But I just love seeing guys get called up by the national team. It's a great reward for the hard work they put in. I mean for a guy like Logan who has been playing fantastic for years, the guy is the heart and soul of this team and for him to get called up, it's lovely.
**Should MLS have breaks in the schedule for (at least some...) of the FIFA international dates?**
I think they should have breaks in the schedule for all of them, not some. I mean [MLS] gets the FIFA schedule before they even make their schedule, there has to be ways to work around that.
It's unfortunate because there are several weeks where you're going to miss a lot of players. There are a number of weeks where you miss all your [designated players] and all the players that are playing for the national team and it's no fun. When all the guys leave it takes a little bit away from it.
Thanks again to Bakary for the interview. And I would like to make this feature a little more driven by you guys so please feel free to post the name of any Fire player/coach that you would like to see me interview (and if you have a question for them too, even better).