Final 2011 training day notes

Chicago Fire held their final first team training session of the 2011 season this morning officially bringing an end to a year of ups and downs that culminated in narrowly missing the playoffs for just the third time in team history.

After training, head coach Frank Klopas took a few minutes to talk to reporters about wrapping up the season and looked ahead to offseason plans while preparing for 2012.  In the final week of training, the Fire brought in a number of trialists and guests to run through practices with the first team. Overall, Klopas was happy with what he saw after the Fire were eliminated from playoff contention as they closed out their season with a win over Columbus. "The attitude has been fantastic with the guys, and it also gave us an opportunity to look at some players.  It's been very good, but you...feel kinda sad that it's coming to an end because you spend so much time with these players over the year and you build a bond.  It's just like a family," said the Fire's now permanent head coach.

Klopas spent most of the rest of the time answering questions about the prospect of who may or may not return in 2012.  He said he doesn't anticipate much movement in the way of roster changes, at least not in terms of wholesale changes in the manner the Fire experienced after the 2010 season. He acknowledged, as he has previously the need for another striker and box-to-box midfielder and also added that the team would like to find a solution at left back to strengthen the depth chart behind Gonzalo Segares.

A few other key points discussed:

-At this point, Marco Pappa is set to return to the Fire next season to finish out his contract.  He did not speculate on a possible move elsewhere during the offseason for the Guatemalan.

-When asked about Pavel Pardo returning Klopas echoed what has already been known since the season ended.  Pardo's definitely has a desire to return and the Fire want to bring him back.  Pardo himself has said he would like to hammer out a deal with the Fire by the end of November.

-Klopas said Sebastian Grazzini will begin the 2012 season with the club (his 1-year contract extends through July 2012).

-He confirmed that there's an option to sign Diego Chaves for 2012, but he did not commit to the Fire moving in that direction, which could mean an exit for the Uruguayan.

-Klopas said he was happy with Logan Pause's role as captain in the 2011 season but stopped short of affirming that Pause would reprise his role as captain when he returns in 2012.

-Klopas also addressed Sean Johnson and Orr Barouch leaving over the winter to train abroad correcting numerous rumors that those training stints were trial situations. He acknowledged (again) the real possibility of both individuals training with Manchester United and Maccabi Haifa respectively but affirmed that in both cases it was a training-only arrangement.

-He confirmed that Dominic Oduro, team MVP in 2011, will return for the 2012 season.

-Additionally, another source has confirmed that Daniel Paladini will be back for the 2012 season.


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  • Wouldn't be surprised or sad really if Chaves doesnt come back. He was great when he was great, but with Klopas saying they are looking for another big goal scoring forward, you have to think his time is short. He lends skill and finishing ability that is rare around here, but can be replaced.

    Great job this season, GR! You gonna keep posts coming through the final and Drafts?

  • In reply to RedLine55:

    Thanks RedLine....the posts will keep coming all through the offseason. Jeff will also continue to contribute this winter as I will be off getting married in December. Hoping to do a draft chat with the Fire again this January and also want to add some new features to Fire Confidential.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Guillermo, I think most of us will be free that weekend of your wedding, so we should be there to celebrate!!!
    Actually, congratulations on the marriage. Best wishes to you and your bride.
    Thanks much for some great Fire coverage.

  • In reply to Gladbach:

    Thanks Gladbach!

    I'm sure the future Mrs. wouldn't mind a smoke bomb and some road flares at the ceremony.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    ohh well look at that - congrats! Did you intentionally schedule the wedding outside the schedule (unlike Fabio Capello's son- did you see that? ha) ? Good stuff, looking forward to the coverage.

  • In reply to RedLine55:

    Ha....I saw that.....and Capello is skipping the ceremony.

    Put it this way....I had a good idea that any weekend after October was probably going to be open. ;)

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    you rang? :)

  • MLS will go back to an unbalanced schedule for next season...that's disappointing.

  • In reply to colton:

    Knew it was coming just hope they don't screw it up too badly.

  • Not like it's a surprise, but after 2 off-seasons of massive change, it's very positive that the team is going to have some stability going into next year. The Fire should be a very competitive squad next year if they make a few really well thought out moves sprinkled with a bit of luck.

    Chaves is good for depth, but definitely shouldn't be whether or not to bring him back should and most likely will depend on what his salary is. I can't remember what they are paying him...wouldn't mind seeing him back if the price is right, otherwise time to move on.

    I'd like to echo redline's sentiments...great job on covering the season guillermo. Keep up the great work...looking forward to the offseason news.

  • In reply to Drew:

    Chaves only makes 50k, so he'd certainly be worth keeping around at that price.

  • In reply to Drew:

    Thanks Drew. Hope to raise the bar in 2012....

  • When you say "Option to sign Chaves", does that mean that they are thinking about offering him a new contract or that his current contract includes a team option for 2012.

    I ask because my spidey sense has been tingling with regard to Chaves:

  • In reply to iron81:

    Your spidey sense is probably on target again Iron.

  • As I recall, his existing contract included an option. Not a new contract offer. Same was the case with Paladini.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:


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    Paladini I hope learns a few tricks from Graz. So far, I feel pretty good about this squad. But we do need a major upgrade at wings.

  • Purely speculation on my part, but I believe Pappa is going to look to move abroad over the offseason. The Fire need another finisher up top with Oduro, but a move elsewhere by Pappa would shift Nyarko to the wing (if his striker spot were taken by an incoming guy). Pappa searching and finding a Euro squad interested in his talents could move Nyarko back to a winger position. If Pappa stays, I think it's totally conceivable that Pappa and Nyarko could end up on the wings, with Grazzini and Pardo stacked in the center mid slots.

    Should be interesting to see how it shakes out. Pappa has been gone from offseason training for a spell already, in spite of not being called up on international duty for any of Guatemala's upcoming matches, so.....

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    Well, the Bryan Ruiz trade did happen, so he could be looking at that option (if there's still interest on the other end--which I think there is--especially in time for the January window).

  • Guillermo, you coming out tomorrow for the Player of The Year award presentation? If so, first round is on me--my compliments for a season well covered. Krause only gets a half pint since he's giaco 2.0! :P

  • In reply to giaco:

    Thanks.....Not sure if I can make it out to Atlantic Bar tomorrow but I'm sure your doppleganger will gladly take that half pint if he shows up. ;)

  • Section 8 Chicago is presenting Dominic Oduro with the Supporter's Player of the Year Award tomorrow at Atlantic Bar, 5062 N. Lincoln in Chicago. (all ages welcome)

  • Guillermo, first off, congrats on getting married! Having recently taken the plunge in September I can tell you it's bananas but as long as you forget about the little things and drink you'll have a great day. Did you convince her to honeymoon in England so you can catch some EPL games? Or Italy for that matter?

    Secondly, did you see that Lee Nguyen is coming to America like Eddie Murphy? Any word on when his assignment lottery would be? I think he could be a serviceable replacement for Potato should the Fire and he decide to part ways.

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    Thanks Coquito.....sound advice. ;)

    Wrangling a honeymoon in England for some EPL action would have been a masterstroke but we're headed to the Bahamas...there is a apparently no soccer of any quality there.

    The Fire were interested in Nguyen a while ago but he hasn't officially signed yet so the weighted lottery date has been announced yet. I think it's still 50/50 on Pappa returning next year.

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