Frank Yallop conducted end of season exit interviews with players last week before departing for a ten day scouting trip. According to Yallop, players were to be advised of the club's intentions for 2015 as it pertains to each individual during those conversations.
Most clubs probably won't announce which contract options have been picked up or declined until after MLS Cup concludes on December 7 and the Re-Entry Draft list is publicized. Last year, the Fire made those announcements on December 9 and they aren't likely to officially release a full list at least until Yallop returns from his scouting mission although rumors are already circulating. Until then we can take a look at where each player on the roster stands in terms of contractual status for next season.
Alex - His option was picked up after last season and judging by Yallop's tendency to get Alex into the line up at either left back or left midfield during the second half of the season it seemed that the technical staff believed he had some value. There's no official word yet but the Fire appear set to decline the option this time around however.
Quincy Amarikwa - Another player whose option was renewed after last season. The Fire got much more than anyone expected out of Amarikwa this season. His work rate, production, and bargain rate seem to make it certain that Chicago is in store for another season of "Quincy Time", although if reinforcements are brought in at forward he'll see most of his minutes coming off the bench in 2015.
Juan Luis Anangono - Has one more season left on his current contract (with an option for '16) so the Fire will need to either extend the loan deal with LDU Quito, find another destination for him, or come to an agreement to cut bait altogether. His Designated Player tag will be a problem if he remains on the active roster.
Greg Cochrane - Coming into the third year of his rookie MLS contract. Price tag and value lead to a reasonable assumption that he'll be back but there's no guarantee there as Alex was given time ahead of him when Segares was unavailable late in the season.
Razvan Cocis - Added during the July transfer window this summer. Cocis is under contract for 2015 and is expected to return next season.
Robert Earnshaw - Signed a short term deal with an option for 2015 this past summer when the Fire failed to land Silvio Romero and desperately needed help at forward. Delivered with 3 goals in 5 appearances but injury history should be a major concern. His 2014 guaranteed compensation at $206,250.00 is a bit steep for a player who likely won't be a starter next season if Yallop and Bliss are able to upgrade the forward position. May be one of those players on the bubble, that Yallop mentioned in his last press conference.
Matt Fondy - After being waived by Chivas USA in June, the Fire signed him in early July to provide some cover at the forward position. Proved to be what most thought he was. Short term, non guaranteed, roster fodder.
Marco Franco - After spending the second half of the season on loan with USLPro OC Blues FC and Indy Eleven, expect the rookie to be back in camp for a chance at making the roster although nothing is guaranteed.
Patrick Ianni - Signed his current deal in December of 2012 while in Seattle. The Fire were hopeful that they could move Ianni this past summer after they acquired him along with Jhon Kennedy Hurtado in January but that never materialized. They would still like to move him and his $150,000.00 guaranteed number and he will likely be left unprotected or have his option declined.
Sean Johnson - The club held an option for him last season and quietly signed him to a new deal last winter after exercising the clause although it wasn't publicized. Johnson is currently training at Hull City and it's just a matter of time before he has a solid offer to play somewhere in Europe. If it's this window, the summer, or next season, Yallop will need to begin planning for the eventuality of Johnson's departure. The good thing is that he's under contract so any move away from MLS would earn the Fire a transfer fee and valuable allocation.
Benji Joya - The Fire landed Joya via weighted lottery last February and the agreement included an option to buy clause from his Liga MX side Santos Laguna. It was pretty evident by his placement on the bench and outside of the 18 that Joya wasn't in Yallop's long term plan. An injury sidelined him for a portion of the season although he continued to play for the US U-23's. Don't expect Joya to return for 2015. The option clause won't be exercised.
Hunter Jumper - Medical issues shortened his season and possibly his career. Jumper won't be back in 2015.
Alec Kann - Loaned out to USLPro's Charlotte Eagles in his first season with the Fire. Probably impressed enough to be invited back to camp and challenge Reynish for the back up spot on the first team next year.
Steven Kinney - Had his option picked up last season but after yet another injury plagued season this could be the end for Kinney.
Jeff Larentowicz - His current multi-year contract was signed in January of 2012 while with Colorado. Yallop has already indicated that he wants Larentowicz back and he will be his captain next season while likely remaining at center back. The Fire may look to renegotiate his deal at a lower rate however.
Mike Magee - His situation puts the Fire in a difficult spot. His new price tag assumes a good chunk of the current budget/cap and his injury could keep him out of action until May. Magee would still be a marketable commodity within the league if healthy but if the Fire considered dealing him the circumstances make it almost impossible to do so now.
Patrick Nyarko - His contract included an option for 2015 but the sides were working on a renegotiated deal to bring him back before the injury occurred that takes him out of action for the next 6-8 months. The Fire would like to bring him back for less than the $284,500.00 guaranteed amount of this past season.
Sanna Nyassi - Is under contract through 2015. A bit expensive at $154,625.00 considering his injury history so his return isn't a sure thing.
Lovel Palmer - The Fire held an option on Palmer for 2015 and worked with the player on a new deal that was announced last week. The popular right back was awarded Section 8 Chicago's Supporter's Player of the Year honor and looks to be around for the next several seasons.
Victor Pineda - His initial Homegrown contract has expired and the Fire will need to make a decision on Pineda. He will now count against the senior roster and cap numbers so the decision is more complicated than it was last year when the club simply picked up his option. After a successful loan spell at Indy Eleven, Pineda may have options of his own.
Kyle Reynish - Signed with the Fire last January after winning the NASL's Golden Glove award for the league's top goalkeeper. If Johnson moves abroad, the Fire may not be sold on Reynish assuming the starting spot. If Johnson returns, he still may be challenged by Kann for the top back up role.
Chris Ritter - Signed a homegrown contract before last season. Will return for 2015.
Gonzalo Segares - The Fire declined his option after the 2012 season and the parties agreed to a new deal in December of 2012 after he was left unprotected in that season's Re-Entry Draft. That scenario will play out again as his $173,3330.00 guaranteed price tag may be too high for a player that appears to be on the downside. Yallop will be looking to upgrade the back line and centerback is probably not the only position he's looking for.
Harry Shipp - Working on his rookie/Homegrown contract and appears to be a fixture for the foreseeable future.
Florent Sinama-Pongolle - Signed to a short term inexpensive deal to close the season with an option for two additional years. Sinama-Pongolle scored in the last match of the season but probably didn't impress enough to justify the option and the international roster spot.
Bakary Soumare - His contact option for 2015 is astronomical in terms of MLS dollars so it's likely that the Fire aren't looking to bring back Soumare at that rate.
Grant Ward - The Fire extended his loan deal through end of 2014 and would like to keep him in Chicago longer. Yallop indicated that discussions will take place with Tottenham to keep Ward for a longer spell. At what price is the question.
Matt Watson - Initial MLS contract was signed with Vancouver before the 2012 season. Proved to be a valuable utility player at an albeit somewhat high rate of $82,665.00 for a reserve. Chances are Yallop wants him back next season.
The date and time for this year's first phase of the Re-Entry Draft has yet to be announced although the Expansion Draft involving New York City FC and Orlando City has been set for December 10. The Dispersal Draft for Chivas USA's players is likely to happen in early December as well. Each team can protect eleven players in the Expansion Draft but can only loose a maximum of two.
The new Collective Bargaining Agreement may eventually change some of the parameters and budgets that each club has to work with but without knowing what those changes will be, clubs will continue to add and subtract from their rosters under the current rule set. Regardless of how much the budget/cap increases or changes this offseason it would appear that the Fire have money and room in which to make much needed changes to the roster. Unlike last season, where 21 of 30 players were under contract for 2014 after options were picked up, Yallop will potentially have half of those roster spots open coming into the next window. Couple that with the budget space that wasn't available last winter due to previous agreements, there won't be anyone else to blame if considerable upgrades aren't made and the Fire don't return to contention in 2015.
The table is set for a true rebuilding process to be completed with enough budget space available to make significant improvements. This off season is just starting to get interesting.