CHICAGO – Everyone needs a break, right?

For Chris Mueller, that usually wasn’t the case when it came to his life’s passion

“I’ve never needed a break from soccer. I’ve gone home every off-season in the past
since I was a rookie in the League and just gone straight to work and am constantly really
pushing myself tomorrow limits, grinding all the time,” said the Chicago Fire FC forward and Schaumburg native, but the last three years changed that.

From his time with Orlando City SC in MLS to United States national team duty in 2020 to playing Hibernian in Scotland in 2021 to Chicago Fire FC starting in 2022, Mueller didn’t have more than a week away from the sport in that time.

So when the end of the 2022 MLS season arrived, he needed to step away from the sport, more mentally than physically, and that’s exactly what happened. Mueller said he didn’t watch or play soccer and went on a trip to Europe with his wife as a few ways to decompress from the game.

“Really just tried to reconnect,” said Mueller of the break. “I went through a bit of a tough spell, mentally, just in terms of the game and coming back from Europe and some of the personal battles I faced with that. So I really felt like I needed some time away from the game.”

It was a drastic move for Mueller, but he said it wasn’t hard to temporarily put soccer out of his headspace.

“So at this moment in time and when I went over to Europe, especially, with my wife, it was three
weeks that it wasn’t hard for me to get away with the game because I had really needed it,” said Mueller. “I’ve gone to the extent of deleting all of my social media, of just really just trying to focus in on myself and eliminate all distractions. Yeah, that’s where I’m at, at this point. I feel good. I feel re-energized, and like I said, I’m just ready to go. I’m excited again to get going doing what we love.”

That time has arrived as Mueller and the Fire kicked off the first leg of their training camp in Cancun, Mexico in January. Having some time away from soccer appears to have already had an impact from a mental standpoint on the forward as he begins his sixth MLS season.

Last year, Mueller arrived after the season started, like a few players on Fire, playing in 24 matches with four goals and five assists. The chance to start the season with the club adds even more energy to the one the forward got thanks to his break.

“Now after I’ve gotten that break, I feel a lot better and I’m really optimistic about this
year. It’s been great to get back into camp here in Cancún with the guys,” said Mueller. “We got some new faces which has been great, and it just seems like we are all a little bit more motivated this time around.”

Larry Hawley has more from Mueller on WGN News Now in the video above.