With the Fire set to take on DC United for the second time this preseason on Saturday at 4pm, Frank Klopas addressed several issues during his weekly media conference call. The Fire coach talked about the release of midfielder Ivan Guerrero, progress made by this year's rookie class, Adolfo Bautista, and the possibility of adding to the squad.
Here are the highlights:
- Klopas is planning to push the starters further during the final three practice matches.
- Roster compliance day in MLS is March 1. All teams need to reach roster and budgetary limits by this date so there are several difficult decisions that need to be made. One of those moves was announced today with the release of 34 year old veteran Ivan Guerrero. "He moved to Chicago because he was planning on living here when his career in Honduras was over so he contacted me and I have tremendous respect for him," said Klopas. "It didn't hurt for us to bring him in and look at him but it was a difficult decision on our part. We have a guy on the left side that we drafted, Hunter Jumper that we believe has a tremendous upside. We felt very comfortable that in a situation if something were to happen to Sega, he could step in because from a physical standpoint and a soccer standpoint I think he's right there". Klopas did not rule out extending an invitation to Guerrero to remain with the club in some capacity. "Ivan is a great guy and a guy that we're going to look to keep involved with us through the academy and the club".
- Klopas maintains that the roster is much deeper this year and the team will be better suited to play different styles. "Our system doesn't change but the make up of the players that you could put on the field can change a little bit. We can be more attacking or we can be a little bit more defensive minded, we have ability to go either way with the players that we have. Last year we finished very strong. When you look at statistics I think we created a lot of opportunities, I think we had the most shots on goal from all the other teams so creating opportunities wasn't the issue. We have some different players now with different qualities so we'll have more opportunities to score. We have more depth within the team and a lot more options to choose from", he said.
- Klopas has been impressed with the progress and development of rookies Austin Berry and Hunter Jumper. "The guys that we drafted have done very well. Austin and Hunter have both looked very promising. They've adapted very quickly and they both have the ability to contribute".
- Klopas also dismissed the possibility of signing Mexican attacker Adolfo Bautista. "Chicago is a place a lot of people want to be and come and play, but I have never reached out to Bautista and I have not spoken to any of his representatives. Those are just rumors. If the player wants to come here to play it's something that I do not know about, I've not spoken to anyone and we have not been reached by anyone. There's a lot of rumors out there and this is just one of them".
- The coaching staff has some difficult decisions to make in order to reach the required roster limit but the team apparently isn't done with the final mix going into the opener. "We can add players after March 1 if we desire to but we need to make some decisions here because there are very few spots and there are players fighting to the end for those few spots," said Klopas. "We've looked at different players but we probably still might bring a player in. We're still looking to improve the team and there are some opportunities out there that we're exploring. Whether it's before March 1 or right after that we might add one or two more players".
- The club is still looking to bring in a center back in particular.
All three Carolina Challenge Cup matches will be streamed live at Chicago-Fire.com.