The Fire have made it official. Forward Chris Rolfe is returning to the club and will be available for selection this coming Saturday against Toronto FC. After departing for Aalborg BK of the Danish Superliga in 2009, Rolfe scored 6 goals in 32 matches over three seasons although the injury bug that plagued him from time to time in Chicago followed him overseas. If Rolfe can stay healthy he could prove to be a big addition to the club.
The Fire were able to retain his MLS rights by offering a qualifying contract upon his exit for Aalborg. This is the same MLS rule that allowed Edson Buddle to return to the Los Angeles Galaxy without being subject to allocation.
Now the question is, where does Rolfe play and who makes room in the first eleven? The tandem of Patrick Nyarko and Dominic Oduro has been dynamic at times but teams have figured out how to defend them and limit the effectiveness of their speed. The Fire have become somewhat one dimensional in that respect and Rolfe gives them another technically sound player who can offer a different look at the forward spot.
A combination of Rolfe and Oduro up top should be fun to watch. Rolfe provides a different element with more of a scorer's mentality than Nyarko does. That being said, Nyarko still creates more scoring opportunities with good runs, clever passing, and the ability to draw fouls than any of his teammates. He is also a player willing to work hard on both ends of the field. Given that Logan Pause's main responsibilities are to help maintain order in midfield while aiding Pavel Pardo in the holding role it's easy to foresee Pause staying in the line-up with Nyarko either coming in as the first player off the bench or replacing the enigmatic Marco Pappa on the left side.
Pappa may certainly be one of the most talented players in MLS but his struggles throughout the first four matches of this season along with his continuing attempt to mesh with Sebastian Grazzini's game make the latter the more sensible of the options in my mind. Rolfe won't solve all of the Fire's problems but his addition most certainly makes them better immediately. Frank Klopas has some decisions to make but given the circumstances this is a good thing.