The Fire have signed former Club America midfielder Pavel Pardo and will add him to the roster upon receipt of his P1 Visa and International Transfer Certificate. Pardo will be available for selection on August 3 at home against Philadelphia and will report for training on Thursday.
"Pavel's international credentials and track record as a professional were defining factors in us bringing Pavel to the Fire. He will provide additional depth in the midfield as we push for a playoff spot in the second half of the MLS season," said Frank Klopas.
The Fire have also released Bratislav Ristic in order to clear an international spot on the roster allowing them to add Pardo. MLS roster rules allow clubs to carry eight international players but teams can add additional spots via trade. Ristic appeared in 17 games, starting 13 over the course of two seasons since joining the team late last year. As a utility man who has played in midfield and defense Ristic should be able to find a home with another MLS side.
The Pardo signing paired with the recent addition of Sebastian Grazzini opens the possibility of personnel and formation changes in a central midfield that has been relatively weak all season. Does a Pardo/Grazzini combination in a 4-4-2 diamond formation improve the Fire? Will a Pardo/Pause/Grazzini midfield utilizing a 4-5-1 formation that effectively pushes either Nyarko, Pappa, or Oduro to the bench be the selection of choice? Either way, both Pardo and Grazzini are working their way back to fitness after a stretch of inactivity after the conclusion of their previous club's seasons.
Pardo will have some catching up to do and does have a considerable amount of miles on his 35 year old legs but should still be an improvement over what the club currently has available at the holding mid position. He is still capable of playing at a high level as evidenced by his 33 appearances for Club America in the 2010/11 season. He's also not a particularly expensive addition given his credentials since he is not joining the club as a designated player.
With only fourteen league matches remaining there isn't much time left to tinker and experiment but with the two new central midfield players and the upcoming US Open Cup Semi-Finals the Fire have managed to make the last three months of the 2011 season a bit more interesting.