The Chicago Fire added some youth and energy to the fray this offseason -- at their goalkeeping coach slot.
Former Judson University goalkeeper Aron Hyde, 27, starts his first season leading the Fire's netminders. Naturally, veteran Fire goalkeeper Jon Busch, 33, already has thrown a few zingers at the age difference between himself and his coach.
"I've cracked a few jokes about him being so young, and that will continue," Busch said. "I caught him on Facebook, and I thought that was for kids. He enjoys his Facebook time."
Busch is adapting following three seasons under previous goalkeeper coach Daryl Shore, and that three-year span included 2008 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year honors. But Busch says the switch has gone well in the past three weeks.
"He's a good, young goalkeeper coach and he knows the game and has a good approach to it," Busch said. "The sessions are similar to what we did with Daryl, but they're also different and have their own spin. With goalkeeping training you can't reinvent the wheel. As long as it makes sense to me and the drills make sense, I'm open and willing to do pretty much anything."
"I've always tried to study the game as much as possible and be involved with the game," said Hyde, who had been in a preseason trial period. "I always try to move forward with the game, so I bring energy to the training sessions. It's variations of the same stuff and it's the same principles. When you get to this level, you try and keep the players interested."
Hyde has known Fire technical director Frank Klopas for about seven years. He played for Judson in 2003 and 2004 and goaltended for a squad that won 23 straight matches in his second season. Hyde also used to train with the Fire's first team while he was attending the Elgin-based school.
"He has a lot of passion for what he's doing. He's very good at what he does," Klopas said. "We brought him into camp and we liked what we saw from him. He's an energetic guy."
Klopas has incorporated some new and fresh faces this offseason, and Hyde appears to fit into this same mold. The Birmingham, England, native already has quite a bit of coaching experience under his belt, including the past year as an assistant at the University of Washington and three years at Seattle University for the men's and women's programs. Not to mention that he was involved in a setting where he would study how to defend against the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and some of the world's top-tier soccer players.
"I went to Walsall as a kid and trained at Millwall and Fulham for four or five years," Hyde said. "It was good exposure and a good environment. I met Brian [McBride] while he was there in the treatment room. He was rehabbing his knee."
So all-in-all, his experiences have framed his own vision of the game in order to incorporate toward the Fire's needs. Now we just have to wait and see if this will translate into a positive product on the pitch.
"Obviously everyone's got an opinion. That's what soccer's all about," Hyde said. "So far everything's been really good. With Jon and the younger lads, I have some of my own ideas in my sessions. My main concern is that our goalkeepers are ready for the season."