WIth the MLS roster compliance deadline less than 24 hours away the Fire will have several cuts to make in order to meet the thirty man roster limit on March 1. Currently the team has 21 signed players, 2 draft choices, and 12 trialists still available.
The signed players :
GK : Sean Johnson, Jon Conway
D : Jalil Anibaba, Cory Gibbs, Steven Kinney, Josip Mikulic, Dasan Robinson, Gonzalo Segares, Kwame Watson-Siriboe
M : Mike Banner, Corben Bone, Baggio Husidic, Patrick Nyarko, Daniel Paladini, Marco Pappa, Logan Pause, Victor Pineda, Bratislav Ristic
F : Calen Carr, Gaston Puerari, Diego Chaves
The Draft Picks :
F : Jason Herrick, Davis Paul
The Trialists :
GK : Alec Dufty
D : Micheal Muniz, Pari Pantazopoulos
M : Yoximar, Mike Videira, Martin Rivas, Shane Clark, Nabil Taider, Marko Maric
F : Gabriel Ferrari, Orr Barouch, Kwame Obeng Darko
That head count including trialists brings the current number of players available to 35. Frank Klopas has hinted that the final roster will include somewhere between 28 and 30 players although simply cutting five players isn't as easy as it seems due to injuries to several "signed" players and the international status of some trialists.
Mike Banner, Steven Kinney, and Dasan Robinson have not been able to participate fully in pre-season training while recovering from injuries. MLS' revamped roster rules for 2011 allows teams to place injured players on a "Short Term Injury List" which would require those players to miss at least six regular season matches. Kinney is a sure bet for this list since he is not expected back until May. With first kick less than 20 days away it is conceivable that all three of these players could end up on the short term injury list allowing three of the trialists/draft picks to earn a spot on the opening day roster. With only five healthy "signed" defenders an opportunity could arise for Open Tryout winner Pari Pantazopoulos to make the squad.
Since the reserve league is returning I'm assuming that Dufty is safe as the third goalkeeper. That leaves thirteen players battling for nine spots if the Fire are keeping the roster at the maximum thirty for now.
Herrick, Paul, Yoximar, Videira, Pantazopoulos, Rivas, Muniz, Clark, Ferrari, Barouch, Taider, Maric, and Darko are the men on the bubble.
The team currently has three international roster spots open so the the national standing of each trialist will become an issue while determining who stays and who goes. Orr Barouch, who apparently is on trial as part of loan deal with an option to buy from Tigres has seemingly cemented a spot for himself with a four goal outburst against New York last week. As an added bonus, Barouch has a US green card and therefore will not count as an international. Barouch was born in Israel before moving to Southern California, playing with Chivas USA's academy, and signing with Tigres.
Colombian midfielder Yoximar and Croatian Marko Maric have also been impressive and figure to be part of the March 1 roster. Assuming that those two capture two of the remaining three international spots that leaves Rivas, Taider, and Darko out of the picture if the Fire leave one international spot available for another foreign signing. It's important to note that although the roster cut down date is set for March 1, it does not mean that the 30 men listed on the squad tomorrow will represent the final 30 on opening day. Additions, subtractions and trades can still be made before First Kick 2011.
Here's a guess at the 30 man roster on March 1.
GK : Johnson, Conway, Dufty
D : Anibaba, Gibbs, Mikulic, Robinson, Segares, Watson-Siriboe, Pantazopoulos, Muniz
M : Banner, Bone, Husidic, Nyarko, Paladini, Pappa, Pause, Pineda, Ristic, Maric, Yoximar, Videira
F : Carr, Puerari, Chaves, Barouch, Herrick, Paul, Ferrari
IR : Kinney
Cut : Darko, Taider, Clark, Rivas
Afternoon Update 4 pm :
The Fire announced the release of draft pick Jason Herrick and trialists Kwame Obeng Darko, Nabil Taider, and Shane Clark. The current roster stands at 31 players.