Sports

Patrick Nyarko #14 of the Chicago Fire advances the ball on the Columbus Crew during their MLS soccer match at Toyota Park on September 22. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

Boasting their most impressive season since 2000, the Fire reclaimed a slight measure of prominence in Major League Soccer this season with a 17-11-6 record, 57 points and their first playoff appearance since 2009.

For forward Patrick Nyarko, he didn’t expect any less.

“We know what’s expected of the Fire every year,” Nyarko said in a phone interview with The Mash last week. “The past few years we have gone away from it a little bit. We did not make it into the playoffs at the tail end of last year, and that’s just not the Fire way.

“Going into the new season this year, we thought if we have a full year with a core group, it could be a whole turnover from the previous three years,” he said.

However, their postseason berth was abruptly stopped with a crushing loss to the Houston Dynamo, 2-1, in the opening round of the MLS Eastern Conference playoffs on Oct. 31.

Nyarko, however, is already looking forward to next season.

“There’s always room to improve,” he said. “I think this year, most of the time, we dug ourselves in a hole. We always came out of the gate not really sharp and most of the time always gave up the first goal. We always had to fight to get ourselves out of that hole, and it’s not always easy to do that.

“So I think we need to figure out why we have these mental blocks, take them out of the game and come out of the gate more concentrated; we’ll win a whole lot more.”

THE PATRICK NYARKO FILE
What’s something that most people, not even your teammates, know about you?
Patrick Nyarko: I like to listen to a lot of R&B music. I like mostly female artists like Mariah Carey. I like and listen to most of her music and I doubt anyone actually knows I do that.

Can you talk me through your game-day routine?
Patrick Nyarko: Most of the games are 8 p.m. so I’d wake up regular time at 7 a.m. or 8 a.m. and we just go out and have breakfast together around 9 a.m. We just sit there and chat; it’s just a really relaxed atmosphere. After that, I’ll come back home and if it’s a Saturday with a lot of soccer games going on I’ll catch a game or two on TV. At around 12:30 p.m. it’ll be nap time and I’ll take a couple hours of a nap. Four hours before the game I go out and get myself a pre-game meal, and then right after I eat I sit around for about half an hour, and about two hours before the game starts I’d go to the stadium and just mentally try to prepare myself.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a pro athlete?
Patrick Nyarko: I think more school. Growing up, I really liked going to school. I cannot say (what I’m going to be doing) a few years from now, but my parents really instilled education in me. I’d probably be doing more school maybe get a master’s degree in something like sports psychology.

Do you have any friends on other pro teams in Chicago? Who are they?
Patrick Nyarko: No, not personal friends. I’ve met a couple guys, but I love sports in general. I catch basketball games a lot, a bunch of baseball games, but I haven’t really watched a lot of football. One of my favorite sports outside of soccer is basketball so I try to go to a lot of Bulls games.

Who would play you in a movie?
Patrick Nyarko: I don’t know (laughs). It’d be really hard to play me in a movie. Maybe one of my best friends. My friend Steven, who lives in Baltimore right now, would be good, but it’d be really hard for anyone to play me in a movie. Saying it would be hard is actually an understatement; there’s a lot of things they’d have to figure out before they could play me in a movie.

>> Get all Patrick Nyarko’s stats at the Chicago Fire website!

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Maura Wall Hernandez is digital editor of The Mash.

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