The Chicago Fire may have just made one signing during this summer transfer window, but Ousmane Doumbia has immediately made an impact and quickly become a popular man in the Windy City. The Ivorian was one of the top performers across the three Leagues Cup matches, so he’ll be hoping to translate that form into regular season MLS play beginning this Sunday against Orlando City. We spoke with Doumbia to see how he’s fitting in with the Fire, and getting ready for the all-important battle to reach the postseason.
What have been your initial impressions of life in Chicago and in the United States?
I see it’s a beautiful city. The downtown, it’s nice, I’ve only been here for two or three weeks. If I’m here a bit more time, I’ll have the chance to go around and see more.
When you found out about the opportunity to come here, what was your reaction?
I was on vacation when I heard the news. I thought that not only is it a new opportunity for me, a new challenge for me in my career, but also coming to the city of Chicago, the team of Chicago, it’s an important team. I thought to myself “why not” as it’s an opportunity to start another challenge and be able to help the club reach its objectives.
At Lugano, you spent time with Maren Haile-Selassie. Has he helped you since arriving here?
Yes, of course, we never lost contact. Even when I was still at Lugano, we would write each other on Instagram, WhatsApp, and all that. When I got here he was really helpful, and I saw that all of my teammates are super nice… Souquet, Shaqiri, and all the others, even if I don’t speak, the language, everyone has been super nice.
What has been your impressions of American soccer so far?
Coming in, to be honest, I didn’t know much about the [soccer] here. Now I see that there are lots of players arriving here who have very high quality, and the league is getting better and better. In the weeks I have been here, I have gotten to play three games in the [Leagues] Cup to get my rhythm back and know my teammates better, and this week will be my first regular season game. I’ve been working really hard to be ready and prepare for the game on Sunday.
Upon rewatch, Doumbia was absolutely lights out against América. A perfect fit in this midfield, and a great partner for Gastón the way he’s played most of 2023.#cf97 #vamosfire pic.twitter.com/K89Id52bfn
— Alex Calabrese (@amcalabrese12) August 6, 2023
The fans have been impressed with how you’ve fit in with the team. How would you describe yourself as a player?
It’s really nice to hear that. What’s most important is the fans, they come to see us every weekend and they spend money to do so, so we have to fight on the pitch to please them. My qualities, I would say that on the field I am a fighter. I go out there and I always do my job, 100%. In the game, you can’t worry about the small details; I do everything the best I can on the field. To hear that the fans are already happy, it motivates me to continue to work hard, and to work very, very, very, very hard to help the club move forward.
What are your expectations for the upcoming playoff race?
The team is already going into this part of the season on a hot streak, I believe in the last five games in the league they have won four and lost one; I have been following it. What’s most important is to focus on ourselves, Chicago, and try to do what we do best. Work more, and be ready on game day. We don’t worry as much about the opponent, that’s not the most important. We focus on giving 100% of ourselves and prepare for the match the best we can.
What do you think about your upcoming first Soldier Field experience on Sunday?
It changes the atmosphere, playing in a bigger stadium. But once you go out there, we are used to that pressure, we only do that. On the pitch, you don’t really hear the noise as you are so focused on what you need to do. It’s wonderful to play in a big stadium with so many fans who come out there and support us until the end. We are going to go and fight for the three points, it’s good for the fans to go out and get a victory.
What is your message to the fans?
I want to thank everyone, from what I’ve seen they come out and really help us. I want to encourage them to come out and thank them for supporting us every time. It’s up to us to do our best on the field, their presence motivates us more, it’s up to us to be at our best and to play with heart.