This is a busy week for Frank Yallop and the Chicago Fire technical staff. Following Sunday's 1-1 draw in Kansas City, the team returned to training today and depart for Atlanta this afternoon ahead of tomorrow night's US Open Cup quarterfinal match against the NASL's Silverbacks. They'll go from Atlanta to Boston, where they'll train on Friday in preparation for a Saturday match with the New England Revolution.
On top of that, MLS' secondary transfer windows officially opened for business today and the Fire are in shopping mode. The team could use upgrades in several areas but it didn't sound like any big names were on the immediate horizon although they are looking at possibilities. Yallop told reporters this morning that there are moves in the works even if a big name isn't in the cards right away. "We've got our eye on some guys. Nothing we can say publicly yet because of the situations but we've got some possible targets that we've been speaking to for a long time".
Salary budget maneuverability is still something of a hurdle although there is room created by the Rolfe and Anangono transactions. "We're trying our best to improve the team with what we have to use. Hopefully we can get some stuff done," said Yallop.
A new Designated Player is something that the club isn't shying away from but the search is still ongoing with several reports listing the Fire as suitors for AC Milan's Robinho. When asked is a Designated Player signing was on the horizon Yallop responded positively but cautiously. "It's (DP) in the thoughts. Yes. We're trying to do that but again it's about making sure it's the right move for the club. Not just short term but long term. We don't want to go down the path of moving a guy after six months if it's a DP where we're not quite sure it's the right thing for us as a team and a club".
Speaking specifically about Robinho, Yallop did say that he is a name that they've considered along with other teams in MLS. "He's been mentioned. They (names) get bounced around by every team. The same players get bounced around for every team. It's about what we need as a team. They're all good players but we want to make sure that their minds are right and they want to come here for the right reasons and that takes a while to look into."
"The mentality of players coming over is important. To know that they want to be here and that they want to be winners (is important). Robbie Keane and those type of players are fantastic characters and they've worked out but we've seen a number of players that have not worked out. I just want to make sure that we make the right decision and we're not going backward," said Yallop of the ongoing DP search. "Fans out there are pushing for us to get some big name people in but they're not always available and they're not always what fits in for us. Sometimes they don't want to go to Chicago. That comes into it also," he added.
The Fire have spoken to DaMarcus Beasley but a number of clubs have also expressed interest. Beasley would be subject to allocation if he was to return to MLS so acquiring USMNT stars like him or Jermaine Jones isn't as simple as making an offer and having the player accept it. A trade up in the allocation order would be required in order to sign either of those two players. "We were interested in getting Marco Pappa back but it didn't work out because of the lottery (allocation) and because of the money and all of those things," said Yallop of the process.
The Fire's Director of Soccer discussed some possibilities yesterday with owner Andrew Hauptman and although a big name signing doesn't sound imminent, he's not ruling it out. "He's up for anything," said Yallop of Hauptman's receptiveness to adding players. "Whatever we think is right, he says he ready to do what we think is right for this club. We're trying but it's got to be in the right positions, the right spots, and the right character. I don't want to be panicked into getting something because we think we need to do something".
There will surely be some additional talent added to the roster with Yallop saying he's hoping to announce something soon but it's not likely to be a big ticket player as the Fire continue to search for the best fit. "Now is the time to get some of the things that we've been working on over the last couple of months finalized," he said.