Now that the Dominic Oduro for Dilly Duka (and Robbie Rogers) deal has been made official we can take a look at what the acquisitions mean for the Fire's roster and depth chart heading into the 2013 season. Duka is likely to get a good shot at earning first eleven minutes on the left side of midfield in competition with Alex but Rogers is the wildcard here. He's currently without a club after cutting ties with Leeds United last week and the Fire now hold his rights if he returns to MLS. Should he decide that his Euro options aren't as fruitful as they would be stateside Chicago will have first crack at signing him. However, it may be difficult to fit him into the current budget structure without making a few other maneuvers. The forward position is thin at the moment with only Chris Rolfe, Sherjill MacDonald, and Maicon Santos as the only strikers on the roster with proven success on the professional level. The best move here may be to trade Rogers' rights within MLS in exchange for a forward or allocation money which would allow room for another scorer.
Oduro wasn't happy with a reduced role and was looking to find a spot where he could earn more playing time in a contract year. The Fire's leading scorer in 2011 is out of contract at the conclusion of this season and one can't blame him for looking toward his future if he was to be relegated to bench duty as a 60th minute substitution at best. "This was a very difficult decision", said Soccer Operations President Javier Leon of the move. "Dominic had expressed interest in pursuing an opportunity for a starting position. We thank him for all that he has done for the Fire and we wish him well as he takes the next step in his career.”
At 27 years old, this was likely the last chance for Oduro to maximize his earning potential as a player so you can't begrudge a player for wanting to get onto the field for that very reason. It wasn't going to happen in Chicago with Chris Rolfe and Sherjill MacDonald ahead of him. The picture probably became a little clearer for him when the club selected Maicon Santos in the Re-Entry draft in December. After playing a huge role in the club's second half resurgence in 2011, Oduro struggled in a single striker formation in 2012. He wasn't suited to succeed in that role as the Fire adapted to competitors who wisely shifted their back lines deeper to combat the system that the club used to find success during the mad dash late in 2011.
Duka wasn't happy in Columbus either after clashing with coach Robert Warzycha. It's a good move for both players and both clubs but the Fire have done well to get Rogers in the deal regardless of whether he ever dons a red shirt or not. As an added bonus, Duka's cap number will be considerably less than the $243k guaranteed that he earned last season.
Fire depth chart
Here's a look at the current Fire roster:
GK Johnson, Tornaghi, Belshaw, Kann*, Kitson*
LB Segares, Jumper
CB Friedrich, Berry, Kinney, Videira, McKenzie*, Robertson*
RB Pause, Anibaba, Gallagher*
LM Alex, Duka, King, Atouba*
RM Nyarko, Thompson, Pineda, Trialist #2*
CM Lindpere, Larentowicz, Paladini, Bone
F Rolfe, MacDonald, Santos, Colin Rolfe*, Gulley
*Denotes trialist or draft pick
We don't know much about the unnamed "Trialist #2" other than he's French and a Virgo. There are additional trialists in camp including two young Ecuadorian players. The Fire have not released an updated official list with the new additions in place and a few of the names above may no longer be in camp. A few other trialists are longer with the team although no formal announcement has been made so they're not listed here. For more on that and an update on everything else going on in the Fireverse check out the latest Fire Confidential Podcast right here. The show will also be available at NASN.tv later today.
Johnson gets USMNT call
Sean Johnson has been named to the US roster for World Cup Qualifying which begins Wednesday in Honduras. Johnson is one of three goalkeepers on Jurgen Klinsman's roster. The other two are Tim Howard and Brad Guzan. Good company.
Here's the USA roster:
GOALKEEPERS (3) : Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire)
DEFENDERS (9) : Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Carlos Bocanegra (Racing Santander), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Timmy Chandler (Nuremberg), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim), Michael Parkhurst (Augsburg)
MIDFIELDERS (8) : Michael Bradley (Roma), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Maurice Edu (Bursaspor), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Jose Torres (Tigres), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (4 ): Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Clint Dempsey (Tottenham Hotspur), Herculez Gomez (Santos), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders)