Chicago Fire defender Yamith Cuesta, left, saw action in only six games… (Mike Cassese / Reuters )
When Yamith Cuesta was traded from Chivas USA to the Chicago Fire in March, the Colombian defender faced many changes. The teammates, the coach, even the weather changed. The jump to the Midwest also forced Cuesta to refocus his efforts on learning English.
"Here [in Los Angeles] there are a lot of people, some say 80% of the people, who speak Spanish," Cuesta said. "For me, being in Chicago, using my English every day, it's improving every day."
The language barrier didn't only challenge Cuesta's everyday life, but also his performance on the field.
"Few of the guys speak Spanish," he said of his Fire teammates. "On the field with Chivas, they always spoke Spanish with me."
Chivas (4-7-5) would be wise to remember Cuesta is listening Saturday night in a game that ended too late for this edition. Cuesta has started and finished 12 of the Fire's last 13 games.
"He's ready to play when he's called upon in any game," Fire interim coach Frank Klopas said. "He had a good experience here with Chivas, and he has a lot of respect here for the organization."
With Chivas last season, Cuesta saw action in only six games, but he is not focused on proving the team made a mistake trading him. Rather, Cuesta intends to prove the Fire (2-4-11) was smart in trading for him.
"Coming back to Los Angeles, I have friends playing with Chivas, but everything now is about the game," he said. "I'm very happy for my time in Chicago. I've been working, and when I'm playing, I don't want to lose the game, and I haven't."
Indeed, in Cuesta's 12 games on the Fire backline, the team has lost only one. As is typical for the Fire this season, though, 10 of those games ended in draws. Klopas said bucking that trend will be tough at the Home Depot Center.
"This will be a difficult match on the road," he said. "They have a good pace up top. [Chivas forward Marcos] Mondaini is a very clever player."