With MLS Cup in the rear view mirror teams can begin focusing in earnest on the 2013 season beginning now. The league trade window opens today and there seems to be plenty of action underway already. Talk of Real Salt Lake in the midst of a major reconstuction by trading Jamison Olave and Fabian Espindola to New York and Will Johnson to Portland for allocation money has surfaced. The Red Bulls also appear to be revamping their back line by acquiring Kosuke Kimura from the Timbers while Portland has reportedly acquired fullback Michael Harrington from Sporting KC. The offseason trade and rumor frenzy is off to a fast start but what about the local team?
The Fire's current roster stands at 26 with the retirement of Cory Gibbs and the club has yet to make any announcement on which player contract options have been renewed or declined. The majority of the starting eleven are under contract for 2013 so there aren't many concerns with bringing back the first choice group although there are decisions that need to be made on the bench. Alex's contract included an initial six month stay with an option for 2013, Corben Bone could theoretically graduate out of the Generation Adidas program making his contract eligible to count against the cap, and a decision on whether or not Dominic Oduro returns are some of the key questions facing the reserves. With regard to the starting eleven Chris Rolfe and Sherjill MacDonald are under contract for next season with MacDonald's option coming up after the 2013 campaign. Logan Pause and Patrick Nyarko signed new deals early in 2012, Pavel Pardo has one year remaining on what wil likely be his last contract, and Alvaro Fernandez is also wrapped up for 2013.
Defensively Jalil Anibaba, Austin Berry, and Arne Friedrich are all returning with the options for Sean Johnson and Gonzalo Segares expected to be picked up. The fates of Guillermo Franco, Wells Thompson, Mike Videira, Steven Kinney, and Jay Nolly seem to be up in the air as bubble players. Whether or not Dan Gargan returns is also questionable although it shouldn't be. Here's the current roster as it stands right now:
GK: Johnson, Nolly, Tornaghi
D Anibaba, Berry, Friedrich, Gargan, Jumper, Kinney, Segares, Walls
M Alex, Bone, Alvarez, Nyarko, Paladini, Pardo, Pause, Pineda, Videira, Thompson
F Gulley, MacDonald, Oduro, Rolfe, Franco
The league's annual Re-Entry Draft for players that meet the criteria for being selected after essentially being waived by their clubs will be held this coming Friday afternoon but the league has yet to release the complete list of names that will be available. Most clubs turned in those names to the league late last week. It's interesting to note that the Fire currently have 7 of the 8 allotted international slots occupied with the player roster named above. There are also four other players that are still part of the club on paper via loan deals. Don't expect any of those four players currently "on loan" (Robayo, Puppo, Grazzini, Barouch) to return.
The Fire also have Fernandez and MacDonald occupying Designated Player spots and adding a third will entail that the club shells out a $250,000.00 fee that is dispersed as allocation money to other clubs not carrying three DP's. Ironically enough $250K was the amount paid as a transfer fee last winter for Federico Puppo which combined with his salary pushed him into DP classification. The Fire can't afford another mistake of that nature as their competition in the East is gearing up for improvements and new player reinforcements.
Things will start to get interesting around the league this week.