MLS Preseason

Defender Hurtado feels at home with new MLS team, Chicago

2014-02-19T00:00:00Z Defender Hurtado feels at home with new MLS team, ChicagoBy Dave Ord Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 19, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Jhon Kennedy Hurtado is getting used to a new team and a new city. He’s attempting to mesh with some new faces on the Chicago Fire backline. He’s got a new coach to try and please.

And he hasn’t found a place to live in the Windy City yet.

But on Sunday, at the Chicago Fire’s Kino Sports Complex practice field, Hurtado sat on a bag of Adidas Brazuca balls as if it were a lounge chair, and his only concern was soaking up the Tucson sun.

Chicago will face the Colorado Rapids in the middle match of the first FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup tripleheader today at 3:30 p.m. at Kino Sports Complex North Stadium. FC Tucson will play Chivas USA in the first match at 1 p.m., and the day will wrap up with a 6 p.m. contest between Real Salt Lake and the New England Revolution.

Hurtado, a 2009 MLS All-Star, seems almost impervious to the circumstances that would make many a man fret. But when you do what he does — close down some of the league’s best strikers when they are charging hard at him and the game is in the balance — maybe all that other stuff is just flotsam and jetsam.

He was a lynch pin at the back for Seattle Sounders FC, helping the club reach the playoffs in each of the franchise’s first five seasons in the MLS.

That all changed Jan. 15 when he and Patrick Ianni were shipped to Chicago for defender Jalil Anibaba and a swap of first-round SuperDraft picks that jumped Seattle from 13th to eighth.

The 29-year-old Colombian says he’s ready to start anew.

“It’s really exciting” being with the Fire, Hurtado said. “It’s a new team with athletic, professional players and a new coaching style. So I’m really, really excited for this opportunity. And now I say, ‘Let’s enjoy every day.’ ”

The center back does have one face he doesn’t have to get used to — Ianni. Both had been with Sounders FC since the start.

“Absolutely it’s nice to have him on the team,” Hurtado said of Ianni. “You spend five years with him, and I hope many more with him in Chicago.”

Hurtado will be out to impress first-year coach Frank Yallop, although Yallop, who has been in charge of three other MLS teams, knows Hurtado well.

“I’ve admired Jhon from afar when he was playing for Seattle,” Yallop said. “Looking at the squad, I thought we needed some good depth at the back and some competition for places, and I think we’ve got that.”

In addition to Hurtado and Ianni, Chicago acquired Real Salt Lake defender Lovel Palmer in the offseason to join three members of last year’s Fire backline — Austin Berry, Bakary Soumare and Gonzalo Segares.

When discussing the new competition and new surroundings, Hurtado turns into a philosopher of the unflappable.

“In the end, you play soccer. It doesn’t matter what team you are on, what city you are in,” Hurtado said.

Even if you haven’t found a place to stay yet.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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