With only one match remaining before the Fire complete Phase 3 of preseason training and return to Chicago, head coach Frank Klopas has the opening day roster close to set. March 1 is roster compliance day for all MLS clubs, meaning that the total dollars expended on the senior roster must fall within the established salary budget constraints set forth by the league. The Fire are currently within those limits with players 1-20 on the roster and cuts aren't required at this time. "We're fine with the first 20 spots but the other players from 21-28, we can add and make cuts after this date," explained Klopas.
Klopas and the coaching staff are still going through the process of determining which players will likely fill roster spots 21-28. Some of the trialists seemingly have already established a claim to a few of those spots, one who is sure to stick is Paolo Tornaghi. "He's a young goalkeeper who comes with a lot of experience, he's been in a very good system at Inter and at this point I can tell you he's a guy that we want to keep on our roster," said Klopas. Tornaghi will not occupy a senior roster spot because of his age but he will take up one of the three open international spots currently available. The coach was not concerned with the possibility of a back-up keeper occupying a valuable international spot. "We believe in the player and the quality of the player and goalkeeper is a very important position on the field so there's no concern on our end," said Klopas.
Defender/midfielder Tony Walls has impressed Klopas as well. "I think he's done well. We've used him in a couple of different spots whether it's been in the middle where he played a lot in college as a number six or an eight or we've used him a little bit on the right side as a right back. I think he's done well and now it's going to come down to these decisions I talked about at the end of this camp."
Lucky Mkosana will travel back to Chicago so the staff can get a longer look before a decision is made on his status. Klopas also plans to get more of a look at Amadou Sanyang before making a decision on him as well.
Klopas confirmed the club's interest in German defender Arne Friedrich. "He's someone that we're looking into and do have an interest in. That's all I can say at this point but we are going to be bringing in another central defender." The club explored other options in an attempt to fortify that position but at this point Klopas said "we definitely have one player in mind" and "hopefully we can wrap this up pretty quickly."
One player who may be on the outside looking in is Steven Kinney. The third year defender still has not resumed training and continues to suffer from injury setbacks. "The kid has been trying to come back but there have always been setbacks. It's been a very long time and it's a difficult one. I can relate to it as a player and I know he's been very frustrated by the whole thing. I know they went in and looked at it one more time and everything looked pretty normal so now it's just a matter of trying to push it more and we're just going to have to wait and see what happens now. It's never easy for a younger player to go through something like this."
The final 28 man roster will be determined once the club concludes this phase of training and returns to Chicago.
MLS has a new Fantasy Manager game which looks like it might be fun....I'm thinking of starting a Fire Confidential league for any interested parties. If we can get enough participants maybe I'll come up with a snazzy prize for the winner.