It didn't take much thought for Logan Pause to answer a question about whether he preferred the front office or the field. “Yes. Absolutely," said Pause of his preference for the bench following training earlier this week. Pause is the last link remaining on the first team to the club's most recent successes but he did have a transition to make after his retirement as a player. The front office opportunity kept him in the organization and now he seems more at home in the locker room full time again. “It’s been a lot to do and be a part of over the last couple of months. I’m grateful for the opportunity from Pauno and Nelson, but also AK and Andrew, to allow me to transition and to help and to follow a calling. I’m really just excited to be a part of it and be a piece of the puzzle," he said.
Now that he's had a chance to see several different sides of a soccer operation from player, to front office, to coach, Pause can reflect on how much goes into a season that isn't readily visible publicly. “This last year was just incredibly valuable. To see the back of the house. I think one of the things that I’ve learned (about) is the incredible people that work within this club, and that work so incredibly hard. Of course, seeing how ticket sales works, the structure of the Academy, and managing the budget, all of those things are important to have some knowledge of. At the end of the day it comes down to people. I think that a year away outside of the soccer side was probably the best thing for me to step into this role right now."
He had an opportunity to spend a good deal of time working with the Academy side last season so he's aware of the role Larry Sunderland played in orchestrating the club's success at that level but also sees his new bosses involved with the system as well. “Nelson and Pauno have got a very clear idea of how well integrated they want the first team and the Academy to be. Without a doubt, the Academy players will know Pauno, know Nelson, and know me, Marko, and the whole staff and vice versa. It’s important for player development and moving guys up to the first team from the Academy. The primary focus has been assembling the first team (so far). That’s been a big priority for Nelson and the club."
The Fire aren't done with that assembly yet. Several players are being targeted on the international market and the top rookie this year isn't in camp yet. Brandon Vincent is expected to step in at left back once his time with the USMNT concludes. “A lot of guys impressed us in sitting down and talking to them and hearing their stories," said Pause of his time at the MLS Combine earlier this month. "Brandon is one that was very, very high on our list from a personality standpoint and a character standpoint. He’s won. He’s a champion, you can see a maturity, and obviously he’s a fantastic soccer player. He’s someone that we know will make our team better right off the bat."
As expected, the Fire have made the signing of MLS veteran midfielder Nick LaBrocca official. He is likely to challenge Razvan Cocis and Michael Stephens for time in central midfield but should probably be seen as more of an addition for depth. Central midfield is the other area, behind centerback, in which the Fire are looking internationally for upgrades.
LaBrocca is a nine year veteran in the league who was part of the "free agent" class this winter. He has had two stints with Colorado while also playing for Toronto FC and Chivas USA. His best season came in 2011 while with the ill-fated Chivas squad. He scored 8 goals and added 6 assists that year and was selected for the All Star team.
Kaminski in action
The Fire's presumed top target at center back, Marcin Kaminski started and played all ninety minutes this morning for Lech Poznan. Dynamo Kiev defeated the Polish side 2-0 in a friendly. It may not be an indicator of where negotiations are headed at this point, but it does seem odd that a player on his way out would get a full run in a friendly just days before the European window closes.
Nelson Rodriguez mentioned on Monday that the club is pursuing two players that have Champion's League suitors. Kaminski is one. Sources indicate that the other is a centerback with experience in Spain's La Liga.