It's a good thing the Fire drafted center backs Austin Berry and Justin Chavez because the position which seemed very deep a few days ago isn't as stacked as originally thought. During an afternoon conference call with reporters Frank Klopas provided an update on the status of Josip Mikulic and Yamith Cuesta. Neither appears likely to return to the Fire any time soon, if at all this season.
Josip Mikulic has not joined the team for training due to family issues and is not likely to return. The organization was made aware of the situation recently and will apparently move forward under the assumption that the Croatian center back won't be in Chicago come March 17. Klopas expressed an interest in bringing him back but the undisclosed family situation made it difficult to judge if Mikulic would return at all.
The club is still trying to bring Yamith Cuesta back into the fold but his current deal is complicated by a loan which is difficult to work through. The uncertainty regarding the loan deal and what it would take to work out a contract agreement with Cuesta and the team currently holding his rights makes it seem unlikely that the defender would be in camp or in uniform at the start of the season.
Klopas made it clear, however that the club would retain the rights for both players within MLS.
Conde An Option To Return?
When asked if the developments with Mikulic and Cuesta would impact a deal with New York or perhaps open the door for Wilman Conde to return to the Fire, Klopas was a bit elusive. The Fire have not completed the deal with the Red Bulls which would send Conde to New York and Klopas said there was nothing new to report on the negotiations at this time. The Fire coach did say he was happy with the current roster despite also saying that they would continue to look for additional players to compete for roster spots.
International Roster Spots
The loss of Mikulic and Cuesta would leave the Fire with five internationals on the roster, three below the MLS maximum. Pavel Pardo, Marco Pappa, Sebastian Grazzini, Rafael Robayo, and Federico Puppo currently occupy those five spots.
Puppo reported to camp yesterday and Klopas expects Robayo to arrive within a week.
Johnson Takes A Rest
Goalkeeper Sean Johnson, who played in the US Men's National Team 1-0 win over Panama on Thursday night will take a short break before joining the team on the second leg of pre-season training on February 8 in California.