Marco Pappa has been transferred to SC Heerenveen effective immediately. Pappa was originally slated to join the Dutch side this coming January when his MLS contract expired but according to Fire President of Soccer Operations Javier Leon the move affords the Fire some space to move. "This transfer provides the club with flexibility under the salary cap and made sense as we look toward the future," said Leon in a press release.
The 24 year old midfielder has been an integral part of the Fire's attack this season and the move raises speculation regarding other possible additions, not only for 2013 but for this season as well. Although there has been no official announcement from the Fire, Orr Barouch was apparently transferred to an Israeli club and now Pappa is on the move. Rumors began circulating about the possible return of Carlos Bocanegra two days ago and it seems there is something to those whispers.
The Fire began exploring options for acquiring Bocanegra as soon as he became available and it seems that he wishes to return to Chicago. MLS allocation rules are a stumbling block at this point. Not only does Toronto FC hold the top allocation spot, which enables them to claim Bocanegra but the Fire also needed to acquire additional allocation money in order to free up "budget" space to add a player of Bocanegra's quality. A move for the top allocation spot would require a trade with Toronto FC in the same manner that Brian McBride was acquired in 2008.
Are these moves made in anticipation of Bocanegra's return or is there another player acquisition in the works? We'll know soon enough.
I spoke to Javier Leon this afternoon regarding several possible scenarios based on the departure of Pappa. The Fire are pursuing several different options before the September 15 MLS roster freeze deadline. One scenario would involve a trade within MLS for a midfielder. Another scenario could involve the acquisition of another out of contract player from outside of MLS.
Heerenveen recently increased their offer for Pappa based on their desire to incorporate him into their club now rather than in January. The move afforded the Fire increased flexibility in terms of the cap/budget and the club felt that the acquisition of Alvaro Fernandez could offset some of the lost production from Pappa. Leon called the move a "very, very difficult decision" and praised Pappa for his upfront efforts in dealing with other clubs.
The club has had discussions with several clubs about Orr Barouch, but at this moment no deal has been finalized despite the announcement made on Bnei Yahuda's official website. At this moment, Barouch is still officially a member of the Fire.
Toronto FC currently has the top allocation spot in MLS and Carlos Bocanegra would be subject to MLS allocation if he does indeed sign with MLS. Bocanegra has not come terms with the league at this point.
The Fire are still aggressively looking to add another player before the roster freeze deadline but nothing has finalized at the moment.