Centerback has suddenly become a position of strength.
The Fire needed to bolster the back line and it would appear that additional depth has been added to the middle of the defense with a trade that sends right back Jalil Anibaba to the Seattle Sounders in exchange for centerbacks Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Patrick Ianni. The move also involves a swap of draft positions this year and the Fire's third round selection in 2015. The pick in 2015 is conditional. Chicago will now assume Seattle's 13th pick in the Superdraft and Seattle will select 8th.
Hurtado has been a regular in Seattle's line-up since coming to MLS in 2009. He was a finalist for Defender of the Year in his first season but missed most of 2010 with a torn ACL in his left knee. He started 25 games for Seattle last season and is considered an excellent man marker although he has been dogged by inconsistent play over the last two years. A native of Colombia, he has received a US green card and will not occupy an international roster spot.
Ianni has been a part-time starter over eight seasons with Houston and Seattle. He appeared in only nine games in 2013, starting seven after breaking his foot in preseason. His best season came in 201o when he started 24 matches.
Anibaba, a natural centerback has been up and down at right back since being drafted 9th overall by the Fire in 2011. The trade likely opens up the right back position for recently acquired Lovel Palmer but the Fire still have little depth on the outside. Steven Kinney and Hunter Jumper are currently the only reserve outside backs behind apparent starters Palmer and Gonzalo Segares and both of those players have seen more time at centerback over the last year.
The Fire is now crowded in the middle with Hurtado, Ianni, Bakary Soumare, and Austin Berry all on the roster. Another issue is the amount of budget space now tied up in that position. Anibaba's guaranteed salary for 2013 is listed at $131,245.00 while Hurtado and Ianni made $190,000.00 and $150,000.00 respectively. Combined with Soumare's salary ($200K of which the Fire are responsible for this season) and Berry ($78,425.00) it would seem that they're top heavy at the position.
How much of Hurtado's salary will count against the cap/budget is unknown since Seattle apparently used the "retention funds" mechanism to sign him to a new deal last offseason.
Could another move be in the making?