Former Fire defender Bakary Soumare was kind enough to take some time to answer some of your questions. Here are his responses:
**First, we miss you and it’s no surprise that you are starting now. What do you miss most about Chicago and your teammates? What are the most fun and most challenging parts of being with your new squad? If Rolfe asked for your advice, which he should do, about playing outside MLS, and the adjustments one makes to playing outside of Chicago, what would you tell him? Best wishes. -C-note**
Thank you. I miss the really good friends I have made in Chicago. As far as the team goes, I miss the team as a whole, I left behind a fantastic group in which I have made some great friends such as Rolfe, C.J. and many others.
The most fun thing about in Boulogne is that I’m only 2 hours away from where my family lives so it’s great to have come to every home game. The most challenging part about being here is moving from a huge city like Chicago to a small town in northern France.
Chris was my closest teammate I speak to him almost every day, we share a lot of advices and ideas.
**Thanks for all the great moments with the Fire. 1) What was the biggest problem holding the Fire back the last two seasons from winning the MLS Cup? 2) If you were still with the Fire, what kind of coach would you want to see become the next coach of the Fire now that Hamlett is gone? 3) If your form improved and bigger clubs came looking, what League would you most like to play in? -TKing**
1) Columbus was a better side than us and losing in PK’s is like a coin toss.
2) Chris Armas: this organization needs to go back to what it was known for, there is no better person out there to instill that into the players.
3) EPL. **I am very happy that you are doing well in France. take it from me that we miss you and wish you were still here. What is your goal for the remainder of your career? Would you like to come back to Chicago one day after you’ve won the Champions League with (insert world-class team here)? -patrickhattrick**
I’m always looking to reach the highest level possible, but I also believe that it all happens step by step. I’m really enjoying playing in a good league in a country where I have lived for many years during my youth. It was a dream for me to play in Ligue 1, that being said I don’t want to settle for “good” but I want to experience the greatest — which is in my opinion the EPL. I also want to help my country [Mali] make it to a World Cup. Hopefully 2014 will be the year.
After winning the champions league with Chelsea, I would love to come back to MLS and play. Being able to come back to Chicago would be phenomenal because I love the city, the fans, and I have some great friends there.
**Hope all is going well. In France what position are you playing? Central defense or holding midfielder? -fireaddict**
Central Defender which is my natural position.
**We wish you the best where ever you go. Later in your career, if the opportunity arises, would you ever contemplate retiring with the Fire (a la McBride) or was there conflict at more levels then just Hamlett? -otergod**
As I have stated earlier, I would love to put on a Fire jersey in the future. However, I will have to see what makes the most sense when that time comes.
**How are you liking the French league? -otergod**
I really love the French league, it’s a league I grew up watching.
**We’ve never really heard your side of the story regarding what the incident in the locker room with Hamlett. How do you respond to Hamlett’s comments at the time that you were not committed to the team? Would you have been amenable to finishing the year with the Fire and transferring in January? -Guillermo**
There was a physical altercations between Denis and I at halftime of the Houston game. However, the entire situation was completely mishandled by the organization and it quickly came to a point when way too much damage had been done. I told management that I could no longer continue and I have asked to either be traded within the league or take a bid from one of the European teams that were interested at the time.
**What are your top 3 favorite games/moments with the Fire? -Joe**
In this order: Chris Rolfe’s 3 Goals and 2 assists game against the Red Bulls on October 23rd, 2008. John Thorrington’s goal against the Galaxy that propelled us to the playoffs in 2007. Playoffs Series against DC United in 2007.
**Do you think the Fire should hire the new coach from outside MLS or should they stay inside with someone that knows the ins and outs of MLS? -Joe**
**How is the atmosphere at the club when you’re fighting a relegation battle? -milicz**
It’s very difficult, but we have a very cohesive group and we believe that we will still be standing at the end.
**Best player you have faced in Ligue 1? -milicz**
The best player I have faced was Nene from Monaco.
**Many people feel Denis’ fate was sealed when he got into the altercation with you, was it a fire-able offense in your view? -milicz**
I think for management anything less than a trip to the MLS Cup was a failure. That being said the altercation did not help his case either.
**ESPN.com shows that Boulogne had about 1,000 at their latest game?! If Boulogne is relegated, could you see a return to the Fire? I mean I know everyone says that MLS has low attendance and the USA has a great apathy for soccer but Section 8 and Toyota Park must provide a better or equal atmosphere to Boulogne and doesn’t the MLS level of play equal or surpass Ligue 2? -FireGuy**
The ESPN info was wrong, we’ve never had less than 14,000 people since I have been here. We actually had close to a thousand people to a few training sessions in the past.
It’s totally different because Section 8 is just one side of the stadium whereas in Boulogne and the rest of France you have supporter sections all around the stadium along the lines of Toronto and Seattle.
And we will not get relegated!
**Good luck pushing your club the second half and avoiding the drop. What is your assessment after 1/2 a season of the level of play in MLS versus Ligue 1. Where would the Fire be positioned in the table if you had to guess? -NaperSteve**
MLS has only been around for a bit over a decade whereas Ligue 1 has been around for almost 80 years. The level is definitely higher in France. The teams have a lot more financial resources so they are able to attract some very good players in addition to the players coming out of the great French soccer academies. MLS is moving in the right direction, but is not quite there yet.
Thanks to Bakary for taking the time to answer the questions. The guy is a class act.