Frank Klopas and the Fire technical staff are currently in Florida for the MLS Combine ahead of the draft on January 13 but Klopas feels the Fire have a pretty good handle on which players they're interested in right now. "These players have been off for a few months so it's tough to judge guys on these games, we've seen most of them before now so we're looking for the best fit based on who's available when we pick" said Klopas.
There isn't any particular position that the Fire is looking to fortify in the draft since defense, midfield, and forward are all spots that need to be addressed so the choice will likely be the proverbial "best player available".
With training camp only weeks away Klopas is looking to add players domestically and from abroad based on the extensive scouting trips taken over the course of the last few months. "We've travelled all over the world and looked at alot of different players. We've got a list in mind of which guys we want to add and we'll announce some of those soon. The European window is open so there are players available."
The loss of veteran leadership in CJ Brown, Brian McBride, and Freddie Ljungberg will be hard to replace but Klopas feels Logan Pause is a player that has already shown to be a leader and he'll continue to assume the role going into 2011. In terms of MLS veterans, the Fire added Cory Gibbs via the re-entry draft but they aren't looking to add players who are still available after round two of the re-entry draft. "We've got other players in mind" responded Klopas when asked about the MLS "free agent" pool.
Klopas also expects that Nery Castillo will be better served this season after a full training camp with the team rather than playing through a short term loan as previously speculated in some media reports. The coaching staff feels Castillo can still be the player he was before but time and match activity will be needed. The second half of last season may not have been an adequate period for conditioning given that Castillo was attempting to play during what was essentially his offseason.
The loss of Peter Lowry and John Thorrington has decimated the team's depth at central midfield but Klopas feels that Baggio Husidic is ready to step to the next level. Klopas cited Husidic's strong showing and improvement in his second year as a positive going into 2011 and is also looking for a similar step from Corben Bone. "Corben's a player that didn't get much time last year but he's going to get a chance to step into that spot".
Reports out of Serbia during the offseason claimed that the Fire were interested in a pair of Red Star Belgrade players (Aleksandar Jevtic and Darko Lazovic) and a midfielder from Partizan (Almami Moreira), without acknowledging those players specifically Klopas does expect to add some of the players that were targeted during the post-seaon scouting trips. "We've got different options that we're still looking at for sure" and some player signings are imminent, according to Klopas.
While adding a designated player is a possibility, the Fire Technical Director's approach when adding personnel is based more on how a player will fit into the team's needs and ability to fit in with supporting players. "There are alot of different things we're looking at but it has to fit with what we have and what we're trying to do."
The organization is also still looking to fill the assistant coaching spots vacated by Mike Matkovich and Alvaro Briones.
While Fire fans may not see many big names added to the roster, supporter's will begin to get a look at what Klopas and Carlos De Los Cobos have in mind for 2011 after the draft is completed and the US transfer window opens on January 15.