RICHMOND, Va. – Entering the final stretch of the MLS regular season, the Chicago Fire find themselves in a dogfight for one of the five available spots in the upcoming Eastern Conference playoffs.
At the center of the Fire success this season are two guys that forged a bond that started in 2002 at VCU.
Former Rams Dominic Oduro (2002-2006) and Gonzalo Segares (2000-04) have been reunited as teammates on the Chicago Fire for the past two seasons. The Fire are now reaping the benefits of two of the greatest to don the Black & Gold.
Recently, VCUAthletics.com caught up with Oduro (pictured below) and Segares (pictured left) for a Q & A about their season with the Fire and their time at VCU.
VCUAthletics.com: How has this season gone for you, thus far?
DO: It's been a little bit up and down. Most of the time it's going well, but sometimes things don't go your way. The team is doing well. Personally a couple of more goals would have helped me out. We are trying to make it to the playoffs right now, which it would be great.
GS: It's going pretty well. We have a very strong group that has been mature. This season has been coming along. Right now we are in a good position to make the playoffs, and we just need to make a strong push to the finish.
VCUAthletics.com: What is it like being reunited with one of your college teammates in the pros?
DO: It was fun when I got traded over here, to play with Segares again. We try to reminisce about how college soccer was. We just try to relive the VCU life again. It is also comforting to have a guy like that in the locker room. To know him all the way from college helps. He is a great teammate, and a good defender, and it's been great playing with him again.
GS: It sucks (laughs) No, it's been great, I have known Dominic for a long time now. I met him when he first came from Ghana. He was a very quiet kid, and now he is way more outspoken, and he is completely different then what he was like at VCU. He is so out spoken now, and jokes around with our teammates. It's funny, because all the teammates ask me if he was like that in college. I have to tell this is a Dominic I have never met. The Dominic I know is very quiet and very shy.
VCUAthletics.com: Dominic, I know you just came back to VCU a couple of weeks ago. What was that like?
DO: It was amazing. It was great seeing the guys. It was so cool to see all the stuff that has changed. The gym, the training facility, the games have changed. It was nice meeting all the coaches and players. I just felt that I was back in college again, even though I was not part of the team. It was the first time I had been back in five years, and it was great seeing everything again.
VCUAthletics.com: How was your four year experience at VCU?
DO: It was different. It was a huge transition for me, coming straight from Ghana to the United States to go to college. All the odds were against me, but at the end of the day, I think I was able to go do it with the help of my coaches and teammates. Most of the guys treated me well. The coach was different, and we had people that helped us through the transition process, which was good. I thank everyone who helped me get comfortable on campus, and in the U.S. It was bumpy, but I was able to make it through.
GS: It was a life changing experience that Coach O'Sullivan gave me. For me, I didn't know what to expect. I was leaving my family and my country for soccer, and I really didn't know what was going to happen. I took the risk, and turned into a great opportunity for me. It really helped me mature not only in soccer, but as a person. Living by myself without parents help, makes you grow up really quick. All the experiences I had at VCU, helped me become the person I am. I am very thankful for that opportunity.
VCUAthletics.com What was your favorite part about VCU off of the field?
DO: The campus was great. I liked Shafer, the dining facility. I used to love eating pizza all the time. Also Cary Street was fun. I would also enjoy going to Carytown to eat and have fun with teammates.
GS: I always liked to watch the basketball games at the Siegel Center. It was always fun to support our basketball team, and they would also always have a packed house. I also enjoyed going to lunch with teammates. That was good for me because we were good together, and enjoying each other's company.
VCUAthletics.com: What was your favorite memory on the field?
DO: When we played against North Carolina and they were ranked number five in the country. We went down there and beat [North Carolina] 5-2. I scored four times, and I will remember that for the rest of my life.
GS: My last year (2004), making it to the round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament. We had a lot of starters get hurt, and we showed a lot of character and pulled through. We made it pretty far in the NCAA tournament. It was a really exciting run, which we put together. Especially, beating top-ranked Wake Forest in a PK shoot-out.
VCUAthletics.com: What advice would you give current members of the VCU soccer team to advance to the next level and just in general?
DO: You got to keep your head up. You have to keep your grades up for the NCAA rules. At the end of the day you have to play your hearts out. You have the opportunity to play at the Division I level. They were the guys chosen and they have to embrace the opportunity. You have to try to play the best you can, and control what you can, and try to do well. The rest should take care of itself. Try as much as possible to enjoy the spot you are in and the rest will fall into place.
GS: It helped me a lot that we had great teams the years I was there, but consistency is key. Day after day working hard in practices, and it will show up on the weekends. As long as you are consistent people will start to notice you. They are starting a reputation now, and need to have a good one going forward.