Busch: "I'd just like to thank the [fans]"

Eastern Conference Championship - Real Salt Lake v Chicago Fire

It's now gone official. The Fire has surprisingly released goalkeeper Jon Busch - starter of every one of the Fire's league games in the last two years and the 2008 MLS goalkeeper of the year. Here's how it all went down.

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After the Fire's friendly against Notre Dame got cancelled on Saturday morning, goalkeeper Jon Busch and the rest of the team stuck around for a brief workout. Eventually, most members of the Fire began to file out. But Busch - as he so often did during his three year tenure with the Fire - stayed after to get some more lifting in. While he was in the gym, head coach Carlos de los Cobos poked his head in on Busch's workout.

"Carlos popped in and said 'hey when you're done I need a second of your time,'" Busch said over the phone on Monday evening. "I told him no problem. We went to the players' lounge, where he again told me how well I've been playing and how important of a leader I am on this team and how just everything's going well for me. He then proceeded to tell me that he had made a decision to start [goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra] in New York [on Saturday]. [de los Cobos] said that he thought Dykstra has potential and that he wanted to give him the game." But Busch being relegated to the bench is nowhere near the end of this story. Busch, who said he didn't see "any evidence of anything coming about," stomached de los Cobos's surprising revelation as best he could. He told the Fire's head coach that he would support Dykstra and continue to work hard for the Fire - where he wanted to stay. Their meeting ended. Busch went home.

After enjoying a pleasant day with his wife on Sunday, Busch received a text message from Fire Technical Director Frank Klopas in the early evening requesting that the two meet for "a drink and a conversation."

"We went around the corner and met. He reiterated the same conversation that Carlos had had with me on Saturday in that he sees Andrew with potential and he wants to give him a go at it," said Busch. "I told Frank, 'look I understand. I'm disappointed, I think I did everything right but I'm here for the Chicago Fire and I will support Andrew and give him any advice that I can to help prepare him for New York.' I made it a point to tell Frank that I did not want to be traded away. I didn't want to go anywhere. I wanted to stay and fight for my position and I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the Chicago Fire. Frank then turned around and said that he has to either trade me or waive me."

At this point, Busch had gone from starting goalkeeper on one of the top teams in MLS to being told that he would no longer be a member of the club. This all took place in a span of 36 hours. But why? How does a team justify cutting its starting goalkeeper - and one of its strongest leaders - from the squad a mere 5 days before the season opener? How does it justify leaving the team with two goalies who have a combined zero appearances (that's right, ZERO) in league play? What's the rationale there?

It wasn't a dip in Busch's form.

"I was playing very well," Busch said. "Carlos [de los Cobos] was telling me how well I was playing and telling me I was his number one the whole preseason. Everything was great. I played in four [friendly's and got] three clean sheets. Physically, mentally, everything felt sharp."

It wasn't problems between Busch and the coaching staff.

"Carlos and I got on very well and the new goalkeeper coach [Aron Hyde] was fantastic."

And it certainly wasn't Busch's preference.

"I'm disappointed that I'm not going to be playing here any longer," said Busch. "I took great pride and pleasure and privilege in being the Chicago Fire goalkeeper. I'm definitely disappointed that I'm not going to be here any longer."

So what exactly was the reasoning behind the Fire's decision to release Busch? That, for now, remains a mystery.

"[Klopas] just told me that this is what he has to do and that was it."

It could be that the Fire thought Dykstra had grown to be a better goalkeeper than Busch. But if that was the case, why lead the 33-year-old veteran on by telling him throughout the preseason that he was the number one? To me, it sounds like there's a lot more to this move than a simple discrepancy in talent.

Speculation has already arisen that Busch's contract, which paid him $135,000 last year, played a role in the decision. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement that was signed on Saturday meant that Busch's money would be guaranteed. It's possible that the Fire saw that and determined Busch wasn't worth the money. As of this moment though, that remains speculation.

One thing that is for certain is Busch's gratitude to the fans of the Fire. Busch always enjoyed great support from the fans, who would routinely chant his name after the keeper would make a solid play.

"I loved being here," said Busch. "I'm going to tell you right now I'm going to get emotional [about this] but there are no better fans in the league [than in Chicago]. For three years those guys have been awesome. They cheered my name. To do what they do, I'd just like to thank those guys because those guys were absolutely amazing for the almost four years I've been here. I played the game the way I played the game for those guys and ladies and I thank them for the support they gave me. I'm very disappointed I won't be able to run out in a few weeks in front of them for what would've been my fourth year here. It just wasn't meant to be... wasn't in the cards."

Now Busch is left without a team and with less than a week to go before the season kicks off. He said that he would like to remain in MLS, but he acknowledges that that will be difficult given the fact that most clubs have their goalkeeper situation sorted out at this point in the year.

"My agent has been talking to everybody today," Busch said. "I think financially to stay in the MLS I'm going to have to take a big hit like I did when I first came here to Chicago. We'll cross that bridge when it happens but right now we're looking at any and all options. From MLS, to USL, to Europe, to whatever, we're looking at all possibilities. Obviously, I would love to stay in the MLS. I think I deserve to stay in the MLS - I was playing very well in preseason - but we'll see what unfolds. Right now there's not really any teams that are jumping at the bit to make a change at this point before the season so I'm definitely in a very tough predicament."

So, the Fire will head into 2010 with Andrew Dykstra and Sean Johnson as their two goalkeepers. Jon Busch is, quite obviously, out of the equation.

"I didn't even see this coming," Busch said. "There was no buildup to it; there was no friction between Carlos and me, nothing that ever lead to a thought of this [happening]. This completely blindsided me. My only concern was preparing for New York... Now we're one week away and boom I get this bombshell dropped on me."

Safe to say Jon wasn't the only one blindsided by this bombshell.

Comments

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  • jeebus could you pick a more depressing picture man? Lol...

    But I rarely feel bad about stuff like this, like genuinely bad. I can't really put into words how bad I feel about this, how bad I feel for Jon. If he's reading this, or if you talk to him, just want to let him know that Chicago Fire fans are behind him 100% through whatever he does in his future career and more personally that Warren is behind him 100%.

    gahh this really sucks...

  • In reply to Warren:

    This is something that and has shaken my belief in Frank, though I hope I am proven wrong somehow.

    Though it has been said before on the section eight boards. If the day comes where Busch laces up in Toyota park against the Fire, he wil Not get the You Suck A** Hole Chant. He deserves more.

  • In reply to juanathon:

    He does deserve more but Zach Thornton got that chant and he was our goalie forever. Its the business. Players move freely in this league. It sucks but it happens.

  • In reply to Warren:

    The only thing I can think of that makes sense is that they needed cap and/or roster space to sign Deris Umanzor.

  • In reply to Warren:

    I don't like this at all

  • In reply to Warren:

    I dunno. To drop a guy who has started every minute of the last two seasons, who worked hard, and who was a clear leader of the locker room and the defense...I know its a business, but there has to be room for loyalty and respect in this business. Jon, you deserved better. I'm sure I can speak on behalf of nearly every Fire fan when I say that if you ever need a reference, you can list the thousands of us who are sorry to see you go.

  • In reply to Warren:

    Not to mention the fact that he was the most consistent guy in the back the past two seasons. I know salary caps are low but 135K is nothing. A quality goalie is well worth 135K. Certainly more than a guy like Mapp who does nothing year in, year out.

  • In reply to Warren:

    I am shocked and very disapointed by this move to let Jon Busch go.
    Jon Busch is with one of the Chicago Fire Fans favorite players and has won many games for the fire by making spectacular saves when the forwards werent producing the goals to win games. I think Frank Klopas and the new coach Carlos de los Cobas have shot themselves in the foot and lost my complete respect and have damaged the fans support. Players like Justin Mapp and Calen Carr who have done nothing to help the team they keep and a Goalie that gives a 100%
    they let go. I just dont get it. Maybe when the team starts loosing games Frank Klopas and Carlos del Cobas are let go. Andrew Hauptman please wake up Frank and Carlos are setting you up for failure here.
    my respect

  • In reply to TigerJMS:

    Seems a little harsh seeing that they brought all these players in this pre season. Everyone was so shocked when Pickens didnt get a new deal and we had to go to Busch. Sure Mapp and Carr are not very good players but its the business. Maybe Busch should try to get Mapp's agent because he is pretty good.

  • In reply to TigerJMS:

    This is an astonishing decision. Who knows what is behind it? But, can we hold off on the "sack the management" talk for one game? The drumbeat against the coach mentality really wears me down.

  • In reply to Warren:

    "The first check you write is the mortgage, but the second is the insurance." I'm quoting the Blind Side. 135k may be a lot, but it's hard to find a franchise goalie. This is shocking, and we will miss him.

  • In reply to patrickhattrick:

    What if Dykstra is our franchise goalie? What if Johnson is our franchise goalie? What if we bring in a new, foreign, keeper?

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    If Dykstra/Johnson are our franchise keeper, then you pay Busch's salary for a year while you prove that out.

    If we bring in some foreign keeper, why would you cut your old keeper first? Deals fall through... and that immeasurably improves the negotiating power of the new guy.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Listen, We've been season ticket holders from the beginning. Did you guys forget how close we were to Superliga and Winning MLS cup last year. Due to to the defences inconsitencies, as well as Busch's we failed to win these crucial games. Our inability to build out of our defence through the midfield was atrocious. The name of the game on today's field is quick touches and speed. That's exactly what Cobos is doing and has done. To the people complaining: are the same people that cried when Jesse Marsch and Jim curtin left..... Thank God for Franky Klopas, if you keep wanting mediocrity, keep Busch. This is the new ara of Chicago fire soccer. New team, new philosophies, were going to see exciting quick attacking soccer. Dykstra can play! The Fire have never had a kepper that can stop pk's until now...

    ps- Though it's not the point, do we remember when the ball was 2 inches from Busch's feet and moreno took it and danced around him to eventually score. Or how much busch slowed the game down with his hour long goal kicks and terrible distribution.

  • In reply to jking:

    For every great save Busch had there was a goal kick out of bounds. He is a good keeper and always gives 100% and any team in the MLS would like to have him but we will be fine without him. We thought the same about losing Matt Pickens when he was gone. Things always seem to work themselves out just like this will.

  • In reply to jking:

    The sense I get from the article is that Carlos and Frank are "just following orders" on this one. I think this is a Hauptmann decision. It always seemed that Hauptmann was going to be much more involved than Uncle Phil. Having an owner that gives a crud? Could be worse. As long as he doesn't morph into Al Davis or Mark Cuban, it will be good to know that some pressure is being felt by the players and staff. Now let's go get the triple (MLS, Lamar Hunt, and Brimstone Cups)!!!

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    WITH FRANK WE BUST!

    As the days go by and he is given the opportunity to show his true personality, it is only a matter of time before karma nips him in the phony ass.

  • In reply to ChristohperWallace:

    What did we want Klopas to do this off season? Sign Pappa, check. Bring back McBride and Brown, check and check. What else did he do, get the best draft class possible with where we were. Sign Martinez, Krol, and not to mention a former EPL player that is only 24 years old in John. We were never going to have 3 keepers on the final roster and if Dykstra is having the preseason that they are saying he is having then why not cut Busch and save the 150k in salary. Im interested in knowing how much of the salary cap we have to spend.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    If that is a question for me, I would have preferred that Frank try to start up another pro indoor soccer team or help Gonzalo with the transition in Greece. In any way, he needs to get out of the position he is not fit to do. Frank is merely a "Yes Man" for Andell and personally I think Frank has no backbone which is causing the organization to look like a joke and allowing for his ego to get much bigger than it previously was.
    Signed Mapp to an extension - check
    Signed Carr to an extension - check
    Almost biffed on signing a new coach - check
    Almost biffed on signing a European forward after pissing him off and making the situation much more sticky than it should have been - check
    Get rid of the goalie coach for an unproven, young individual - check
    Get rid of starting goalie 5 days prior to season opener - check

    KUDOS. Seems like a man with a plan if you ask me. Might as well change the name to the El Salvador "B" side.

  • In reply to ChristohperWallace:

    When you say "almost biffed" it doesnt really work because he did do those things. We got a good coach and a player that has the ability to be a top 5 player in this league.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Hmm.. I like Busch as a person, and everyday goalie, but in PK's, I have never seen him stop a PK. I always thought he was a little undersized, and even though he was a good leader in the club house, he was also 33 and not getting any younger.

    The moves makes sense, albeit made with a lack of tact, but still a bit abrupt and mind bending with the season 5 days away.

  • In reply to patrickhattrick:

    We all love Busch and want him to do well where ever he goes. But all this bashing Klopas seems extreme. He did bring in McBride, Pappa, Conde, Krol, Blanco, John, Ward, Martinez and have a great draft this season. We dont know how Dykstra will do but if he doesnt do well then we have Johnson. Who was labeled the best GK prospect in this draft. He is a GA player and has a Zach Thornton body type. So I think everyone needs to calm down and let the team play before making these accusations that Klopas and DLC need to get fired...

  • In reply to Warren:

    they take one step forward and two steps back....again, its not what they did its how they did it..should have let the guy go earlier and give him a chance at another spot somewhere

  • In reply to Warren:

    This was like getting punched in the stomach, Busch was a player that shared the passion of the supporters and gave 100% every time. I'm truly sad and sorry for Jon and for all of the fans and players that will miss him. Jon if you read this, we truly meant it when we chanted: WE LOVE BUSCH, WE LOVE BUSCH

  • In reply to Warren:

    Jon, I hope you land on your feet. You didn't lose your job on the pitch, and you always gave 100%. There is nothing more you could have done. This is obviously a business decision, and it is the Fire's loss! Good luck and God Bless you and your family! The Fire fans will miss you!

  • In reply to Warren:

    so, they think busch is the #1 keeper but cut him? are we trying to win this season or is this a season for development?

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