With less than three weeks remaining until the first kick of the 2013 season the Fire have completed Phase 2 of training camp and have returned to Chicago for two days. The team will depart for Charleston, South Carolina and Phase 3 of preseason on Wednesday with the roster seemingly close to set. Spots 1-20, otherwise known as the "on-budget" roster may not have many openings but there do appear to be a few battles to be won in filling the "off-budget" spots 21-30.
Spots 19 and 20 on the senior roster do not have to be filled per league roster rules and can be used to add allocation dollars to the budget pot. Here's a look at what the top 18 might look like if back-up goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi has advanced into the "on-budget" side this season.
GK Johnson, Tornaghi
D Anibaba, Berry, Friedrich, Segares, Pause
M Alex, Nyarko, Paladini, Thompson, Lindpere, Larentowicz, Duka, Bone
F MacDonald, Rolfe, Santos
That leaves room for 10 players to fill out the first kick roster. Several players are shoe-ins to return Hunter Jumper, Victor Pineda, Mike Videira, Steven Kinney, and Kellen Gulley are under contract although Gulley could be loaned out somewhere. Newly acquired Brendan King is also on board. That leaves several players vying for the remaining four open roster spots.
Rookie Yazid Atouba has impressed in every appearance so far and he has caught the attention of the technical staff. One has to assume that he will claim one of the four available positions. That leaves this list battling for a contract heading into Phase 3:
GK Belshaw, Kann
D Gallagher, McKenzie, Steres
M Pabon, Carr
F Mercado, Griffin, Amarikwa, Brettschneider
One has to figure that they'll hold on to either Belshaw or Kann as third 'keeper which narrows the field down even tighter. Cuts haven't been announced yet but it's likely that several of these names won't be heading to Charleston. Steres, Griffin, and Carr are long shots along with the two Ecuadorians Mercado and Pabon. That would leave Supplemental Draft selection John Gallagher, Rauwshan McKenzie, Quincy Amarikwa, and Blake Brettschneider fighting for the two remaining spots. McKenzie is still technically a Chivas USA player so there may be some compensation forthcoming from Chicago if he does make the squad. Quincy Amarikwa, who joined the club as a guest player this weekend is still property of Toronto FC but has showed some flashes in brief stints with Colorado and San Jose. He came into the match this weekend and earned the penalty kick that led to the game winner so he's an intriguing option. The Fire's lack of depth at forward would seem to indicate that either Amarikwa or Brettschneider gets a long look. Colin Rolfe was also still around but not available this weekend due to injury.
Loan deals for players like Gulley could also open up a roster spot if the Fire want to see him get more consistent playing time away from the first team where minutes will be scarce even with a new Reserve League schedule in place. With less than three weeks to go it seems the opening day 28 is close to set.
Fire Confidental Podcast
Check out the latest episode of the podcast with guest Dasan Robinson, discussion about the USMNT loss to Honduras, and more on the Fire's roster heading into the last phase of camp.