Mid Week Notes

Grazzini plot thickens

The Fire did not make Sebastian Grazzini available to reporters following training this morning fueling further speculation that the midfielder's option may not be picked up come June 30.  Grazzini seemed to have a few words for the coaching staff as he walked by the bench while ignoring hand shake offers after being substituted in the 60th minute on Sunday.  According to witnesses located near the Fire bench he followed that up by slamming down his warm-up and leaving for the locker room before the match concluded.  He was showered and departed by the time media was allowed into the locker room after the match as well.

Frank Klopas, who suggested that he wanted to keep Grazzini in the side last week but was not involved in the contract negotiations addressed the situation after practice today stating that the time has not yet come to make a decision and acknowledged that the player has a say with regards to the club picking up his option.

Retaining Grazzini would seem to be a no-brainer especially since the club holds the option but the entire picture is difficult to assess without knowing what the issues are for both sides.  Grazzini has been an integral part of the Fire's revitalized attack and overall improvement since joining the club last July.  Consistently dangerous prolific scorers and creative attacking playmakers are the most difficult positions to fill effectively in MLS and it would seem that Grazzini fits the bill as one of those elusive talents given his production so far.  He may be well within his right to demand additional monetary compensation and a longer term stay on top of the option based on the fact that he has performed well in his time with the club but the front office also has the right to work the best possible deal while guarding what is best for the club within the restrictions dictated by MLS budgetary rules - if indeed that is what has kept them from completing this deal long before it became the distraction that it is now.

Simply from a public perception standpoint it seems that the front office has painted themselves into a corner once again by waiting to the last possible minute at the risk of alienating an important player.  Of course, an agreement could be reached before June 30 and this will all blow over but it seems an unnecessary evil at this point.  Ownership should know that another public relations gaffe will further alienate a hard core fan base already disheartened by other unnecessary mistakes like the public dissing of Peter Wilt at CJ Brown's Ring of Fire induction ceremony.  And that's saying nothing of the ceremony itself which appeared to be handled as a half-time after thought.

Of course if there's another dynamic, playmaking midfielder sitting at home just waiting for the Fire to decide the fate of Grazzini then all of this will make sense.  The next month will be very interesting indeed.

Summer Signing?

Klopas also said that he expects the club will make a signing during the summer transfer window (June 27-July27).  Whether or not that signing turns out to be the impact striker that is probably necessary to challenge for a top spot in the East remains to be seen.  Fire brass was away on a "scouting" trip last week to speak with candidates in person and seem to have one established striker at the top of the wish list.  However, that player apparently has drawn interest from at least one Premiere League club so the signing is not a sure thing.  There also seems to be a handful of lesser known forwards on the list should choice "A" not be available.

NBCSN announcer Arlo White mentioned during Sunday's broadcast that the Fire is also looking at possibly adding a central midfielder.  I'm assuming the central midfielder would be an addition pending the outcome of negotiations with Grazzini.

Another week for Friedrich

It seems the Fire will have Jalil Anibaba and Austin Berry together in the starting eleven for at least another week.  Arne Friedrich told reporters today that he is not quite ready to start this weekend against Columbus although he continues to participate in full training.

Attendance Bump

Near sell out crowds are expected for the next three home games.  Saturday's match against the Crew is being hyped by a twitter battle between the two clubs.   A winner will be determined by the total amount of fan tweets featuring either the phrase #VoteFire or #VoteCrew.  Needless to say, there are some creative reasons being submitted for voting for either side.  Games against the Los Angeles Galaxy and Vancouver Whitecaps are either sold out or close to it.

Fire Confidential Milestones

Some time in the next few weeks Fire Confidential will hit 500,000 page views over the last two seasons on top of already eclipsing 15,000 reader comments since 2009 when our pal Sam Stejskal originally penned this blog.  I'd like to take a second to thank all of you for reading and making this a blast to do. Original Fire news blogger Luis Arroyave Gomez, author of the Tribune's Red Card told me during a rare press box appearance on Sunday that one of the things he missed most about the soccer beat was reading the comments from Fire supporters.  Thanks for making it fun.

That goes out to all four of you who have clicked on this site over 125,000 times apiece in the last two-plus seasons.  ;)

Filed under: 2012 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire

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  • I admit, it's tough clicking on the site 20 times every hour, but somebody's got to do it... ;-) Congratulations on the milestone!

    On another note, the Grazzini situation really is becoming a distraction. And Arne's continued absence is making me rethink the wisdom of his acquisition, though I am an enthusiastic supporter when he's on the field... But thanks, Guillermo, for digging up this news.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    I don't have any issue with the Friedrich acquisition even with the current injury situation. It was definitely worth a shot to bring him in for the price they paid. I think he'll be an asset before the season is over. They're probably being cautious for good reason.

  • Congrats on the milestone GR. For the record, I only click the site 17 times a day. :)

  • Keep up the good work, Guillermo.

    On another topic--another interesting story in the Trib about the debacle of Toyota Park for the Bridgeview taxpayers.

    Does anyone know how long the Fire is committed to TP?

    I made my first trip out there last Sunday. Great game, but from the North side it took about 90 minutes to get there.

    It is interesting to see TP compared to the new trend in MLS stadiums which are increasingly being built in central cities like Stade Saputo or Jeld-Wen Field.

    Fire clearly have a great deal (built on the backs of blue collar taxpayers), but, man, TP's inaccessibility by transit and the lack of amenities in the neighborhood have to be negatively impacting ticket sales.

  • In reply to Roti2000:

    Thanks Roti.
    I'll see if I can find the details but there seems to be a little bit of a misconception after that article came out that the Fire have some sort of sweetheart deal that lines their pockets along with the use of Toyota Park. That's actually not the case, in comparison to the newer stadia being built today the club doesn't benefit nearly as much as others.

    There wasn't anybody lined up to help get a central in-city site completed at the time either. There still wouldn't be now if TP wasn't built. All of the planned development around the park also disappeared as the economy tanked. As for ticket sales.....if they put a winner on the pitch they'll sell tickets regardless of location.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Well, the Fire do have a "sweetheart deal" to the extent that they didn't have to shell out all the money for a very expensive capital cost.

    Same thing goes for the White Sox and the Bears. Their stadiums were funded not by the businesses themselves, but by taxpayers.

  • In reply to Roti2000:

    To that extent they do. The upfront costs of construction were handled mostly by Bridgeview but as a result the Fire are renters who don't necessarily get much additional profit from game day events. The deals cut by the Sox and Bears are much more beneficial to them at taxpayer expense than what the Fire have going for them.

  • hey Guillermo, what do you make of what Anthony Zilis tweeted? That Grazzini had a huge misunderstanding and didnt know that the fire held an option. Bascially thought he was out of a contract and wanted a new one?

    Anthony Zilis ‏@adzilis
    Klopas wanted to make it clear today that the club has an option with Grazzini, that's the only consideration...

    Anthony Zilis ‏@adzilis
    ....Klopas said the club doesn't restructure contracts in June. #cf97

    Anthony Zilis ‏@adzilis
    Grazzini said he had a misunderstanding with his agent, he didn't realize the club had an option. #cf97

    He's been talking with the club and now he understands. He said the club always treated him right. Story later today... #cf97

  • In reply to KChance:

    Interesting. I wasnt able to get to training today so I wasn't able to hear the comments myself. For some reason Grazzini seemed to understand the club had an option when he spoke about it late last season and in preseason this year.

    Either way, if the Fire pick up the option and bring him back then this ends well. It sounds to me like he got a talking to.

    Best case scenario.....the Fire pick up the option and discuss additional terms as soon as the season is over. Grazzini did say last week that he had no bad feelings toward the club and understood that these things often come down to finances.

    The club has every right to refuse restructuring deals in the middle of the season, that only makes business sense but the question of waiting until now to get it done still stands. After all, Grazzini said just last week that he didn't understand why it's taken so long.

    Maybe this all blows over in a few days, but like I wrote yesterday it could have all been avoided.

  • If the problems with Seba's recent demeanor were all just a misunderstanding, that's a HUGE relief. But I'm still anxiously awaiting the contract news. I hope this revelation indicates the FO realized they needed to clear the air with Grazzini on a personal level and did just that. If so I may begin to have hope for the Fire management growing into the job. Hope they realize growth is an everyday, ongoing thing though...

  • I'm hopeful that it was a case of "lost in translation". If everyone's on the same page, Grazzini re-signs, and a striker's brought in, it's about to get REAL at Toyota Park.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    hopefully javier doesn't pick the striker this time.

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    Congrats on the site. I couldn't believe the 6-7 of us regular posters could do that much damage.

  • Gazzini problem and this:

    http://msn.foxsports.com/foxsoccer/seriea/story/clarence-seedorf-to-leave-ac-milan-ten-years-looking-at-options-062112

    1+1=2?

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    I love me some Clarence Seedorf but it seems he's headed for Botafogo in Brazil. Seedorf is class on and off the field but his asking price may be a bit high.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    What you think Andy's cheap and won't spend the money? ;)

  • In reply to penapirata:

    He's spent money before on guys like Castillo and Ljungberg so I wouldn't exactly call him cheap.....I think he has a threshold on how much he'll spend though.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    And his budget is blown for the next decade. :P

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    that was the past, what do you think he'll do now? do you think he'll hold off because the previous experiments didn't exactly work out? i know he said to you media folks he'll spend money on the right DP but deep down i just don't believe that. he could have just said that for the pure fact to make himself look good in front of the media because people want to hear that he'll spend money. why haven't they picked up grazzini's option yet? does he want to go with the cheaper option of alex instead?

  • In reply to penapirata:

    I guess there's no better answer than actual action....most people will believe it when they see it. Why the Grazzini option hasn't been picked up yet is puzzling...

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    i guess i'm just not convinced that Andrew has the best interests in mind for this club. also could you possibly find out how the sales for the 2nd star club is going so far?

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    In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    At least there is no transfer fee... I'm almost sure we won't be able to meet their salary demands. They think about it by weekly pay, and Seedorf I am assuming is some body who is very used to getting 20-30k a WEEK! I read that Botofogo is already having trouble meeting his salary demands. I think he's still pretty capable at 36? We should spend elsewhere.

  • In reply to waam:

    I think he's looking for somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 million per year.

  • GR may be able to shed some light, but from what I understand there have been "some" sales of SSC spots, but not an overwhelming amount. Still early though, the club was unveiled only a few months ago. While it caters to a very specific audience, I think it will gain some traction, and sales will increase over time.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    sales would probably be better for the 2nd star club and the rest of the stadium if the team was winning on a consistent basis. ;)

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