Fire news and notes - Maloney update

During the Section 8 Chicago/ISA's Annual General meeting this past weekend Fire brass updated supporters on a variety of topics during a Q&A session. Here's a quick rundown of the highlights for those that were not in attendance:

  • Frank Yallop, Brian Bliss, Atul Khosla, and Logan Pause all participated in the Q&A session.
  • The pitch at Toyota Park has been completely re-sodded and the Village of Bridgeview has hired a new turf manager to oversee the field.
  • Khosla thanked team writer and Chicago-Fire.com editor Jeff Crandall for his work over the last five years. Crandall announced on Friday that he was leaving the club.
  • Yallop and Bliss stressed the importance of winning at home this season.
  • Several questions were posed about the back line and the need to improve defensively. Yallop mentioned that he was comfortable with the additions they've made so far and admitted that trades didn't pan out last season. Yallop referred to new roster size limits with regard to adding more defenders.
  • Khosla addressed the renewal of the sponsorship deal with Quaker and added that there are new corporate sponsors this year.
  • Bliss said they were currently at 24 signed players not including Kingsley Bryce. (Note: This would indicate that Matt Polster and Alex are on board)
  • Bliss/Yallop said they needed to be mindful of the new CBA agreement with regard to the final roster size in 2015. Roster size will likely decrease this year.
  • Bliss said they are projecting Adailton and Jeff Larentowicz as starters at centerback. The club is hoping to have between 3 and 5 players on loan at Saint Louis FC.
  • Yallop answers a question about formation choice by saying that they will probably end up in a 4-3-3 and that he's still looking to add two players. An underneath forward/central player and another wide right player.
  • Khosla addressed the infamous "editorial", saying there was no intention to embarrass anyone and that looking back it was the wrong thing to do. He apologized for publishing it and says it was his responsibility at the end of the day.
  • Yallop said that Mike Magee is progressing a bit ahead of schedule in his injury rehabilitation. He is hoping to have Magee back in training in May and Patrick Nyarko back in June.
  • Khosla introduces a sneak peek at the new secondary kit. (Which is quite nice) There will be an official unveiling in a few weeks with the Mayor present.

Frank Yallop, Atul Khosla, and Jeff Crandall all joined us for the 2015 debut of the Fire Confidential Live podcast. Yallop provided an update on the status of negotiations with Shaun Maloney saying that he hopes to have a resolution either way within the next 2-3 days. He also talked more about formations and where Harry Shipp fits in, defense, the partnership with Saint Louis FC, and the future of Gonzalo Segares.

Jeff Crandall discussed his departure from the club and we were also joined by the candidates for the ISA's Chair, Dan Martin and Don Walsh. Give it a listen here or on the right rail.

Maloney update #2

Expect that the Fire will get a deal done with Shaun Maloney and that he will arrive in time for preseason training camp. Reports overseas are picking up on the story as well. It appears Yallop will get his man.

Filed under: 2015 Pre Season

Tags: Chicago Fire

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  • Did they address the Messi to Fire rumors?

  • In reply to Roti2000:

    You mean Messi is buying the Fire? Between those two, that's who can afford who.

  • A report out of the UK says Maloney has agreed to a deal with the Fire.

    No official confirmation from the club yet but a deal is close. He should be here now rather than July as mentioned above.

  • Last year was "salary cap problems." Is this years excuse "roster size?" Yallop out.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    really? If they complete Maloney, to pair with Accam and Igboananike, you cant seriously think that they were cheap again this off season.

  • In reply to KChance:

    I said nothing about being cheap. We haven't filled our roster needs this off season. We have signed attacker after attacker while we have a CM as our best CB. Is that not a problem? We have one RB on the roster. We have garbage CM's. When everyone is healthy, where do they all play? Shipp was our best player last season. What is his role this season? Does he go out on the right, where he has never played before? Does he go on the left? Where do Accam, Igboananike, do Prado, Magee, Maloney, Nyarko, Quincy fit in? Are you happy with the back four that we have right now? Right now we have to pick three of Watson, Stephens, Cocis, and Ritter to play in the middle. All four of those players wouldnt start on most teams in MLS. Looking at our team, a high percentage would not start on many MLS teams. Yallop had no issues with the cap this off season so he was able to bring in his players. Anything less than top 3 in the east on June 1 and he should be let go. We should be trying to win the league every year, with this group we hopefully make the playoffs. So, Yallop out.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    1. I think the backline is crap. It's thin and relies on way too much on unproven or questionable talent. I'm very disapointed that Yallop didn't make this more of a priority. I'd much rather have a low-mid level DP at dmid or cb than Igboananike.
    2. Everyone bandying about the 433 formation is forgetting that formations are much less rigid in practice than concept. Thus:
    2a. Yallop said Accam is a left winger/left forward
    2b. Yallop said Igboananike is a center forward (not a traditional 9 but is expected to play centrally)
    2c. Maloney can play on either wing or as a CAM, expect him on the right until Nyarko returns or until Shipp proves he can't play CAM
    2d. Shipp is a CAM.
    2e. We'll see two c/dmids: Cocis (who starts IMO on 50%+ other MLS teams and is a significant cut above the rest of the options) and someone else. That other person will be below average quality, see comment 1. Stephens MAY be of enough quality to suffice but I'm extremely not convinced.
    2f. The others are fairly obvious (Do Prado is a 9, as is Quincy: both will probably be on the bench but both can/may start instead of Igboananike, Nyarko is duh, Magee can do mostly everything in attack but was MVP as a second forward)
    3. I'm still not convinced, however, I seem more optimistic than others. That said, I'm fine with your criteria for #Yallopout.
    4. Addressing the concerns with DP quality, I'm in the middle on this, I think Accam and Maloney are stuck as 2nd tier DPs because they lack the star quality of top tier guys, not necessarily because of their potential on-the-field impact. And after so many years of nothing, having 3 DPs seems like a lot until you realize they add up to one real big time signing of which a handful of other teams have 2-3. The Fire are making an effort, but it's not to be top tier, it's just to get out of the bottom tier.

    Agree, disagree, whatever, just my 2 cents.

  • In reply to TomazPP:

    I don't disagree much, but I would rather have the very experienced Maloney playing middle until Shipp completely learns his trade out on the wings.

  • In reply to waamsy:

    Yeah, I can understand that.

    I'm not sure what I would rather see, but longer term, Maloney can play all over, while I only see Shipp truly excelling in the middle. Things change once Nyarko is healthy but until then the right wing position is pretty open for debate.

  • In reply to waamsy:

    Shipp was our best field player last season as a rookie. He should be playing in the middle and Maloney on the right. He should not be losing any minuets because of these new signings that we got this off season. If that happens then Yallop has truly lost it.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to TomazPP:

    Agree with just about all your points as I am cautiously optimistic too. Our DP signings are not big names, but they are also all proven talents (unlike young DPs chicago has signed in the past), not stars past their prime, and multiple Premier League teams were interested in all 3. With the current roster, if Chicago could sign 1 more solid defensive minded player (either CB or CDM) I think they will be a very dangerous team. I really think they should somehow be able to buy down Kennedy's contract so they can add another DP, and the perfect fit right now would be Johnathan Spector. He has loads of european experience, his contract is about to expire and Chicago is 3rd in the allocation order, he is a leader, is still only 28, is an Illinois native (i.e. more to play for) and can play and play well in any area of need on the defensive end (and really anywhere else as well). Its a match made in heaven unfortunately, his current salary would put him a little over the DP thresh hold but there has to be a way to make it work.
    As far as the whole "we signed too many attackers", come on! how many fans of other teams would love to see their team go out and sign a whole new stable of quality attacking options. I agree that we need more quality in the back but most of the attackers Yallop has signed are highly versatile and I do agree that we are gonna see a 4-3-3 with 2 more defensive minded midfielders to help cover for a raw back line.
    Accam - do Prado/Kennedy - Amarikwa (Magee/Nyarko)
    - Shipp/Maloney -
    -Alex/Cosis/Ritter - Watson/Stephens
    Jones/Cochrane/Alex - Adailton - Larentowicz - Watson/Palmer
    The back line still looks shaky and unproven, but i think the idea is they signed a lot of depth and just hope someone steps in and steps up, haha.

  • In reply to KChance:

    But as a side note, Maloney, Accam, and Igboananike is not exactly splashing the cash. We signed glorified role players as our DP's. Look around the league at the rest of the DP's, and then look at ours. We have not looked on the top shelf for our DP's. These are not superstars. They might turn out to be good signings but they sure as hell do not get me excited about March 6.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Totally agree.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Accam is not a glorified role player. He's a 24 year old attacker that was also pursued by Premier League clubs.

    These guys aren't Giovinco but they're several steps above previous DPs. Maloney is also a quality player who turned down a Premier League offer from Leicester.

    We don't know much about Adailton so there's justifiable concern about the defense.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    These signings are not top shelf signings though. Teams around the league are bringing in top shelf signings. We are bringing in 2nd tier (Accam and Maloney) and 3rd tier (Igboananike) players as our signings. We are never even in the conversation for those huge signings. When I see that we sign a DP and it's Accam, Maloney, or Igboananike, my first reaction is not of excitement. Sure Accam looks to be the best of the bunch out of doing some extensive research, but it kinda sucks having to dig to try and find out about a player. I have a bad feeling that those players are going to cut into Shipp's minutes and that is not okay with me. I have no faith in Yallop's ability to scout players, pick a solid lineup, or make the right decisions during matches. I want him out. I hope he proves me wrong, but I wont hold my breath.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    By teams around the league you mean LA, NYFC, and Toronto right? ;)

    At some point they'll need to make that big splash signing, but these guys are pretty good.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    ...and Seattle and Orlando and (historically, but maybe not anymore) NYRB.

    There are enough teams there to make the Fire a second tier team in terms of DP signings (this season; past seasons they were a bottom tier team all around). Whether that's a deal breaker is up to individual fan perference, but I understand the frustration given the market size of Chicago, it should be shooting for top tier always (like LA and NY traditionally do).

  • In reply to TomazPP:

    I get that, and mostly agree that they need to bring in a top tier guy at some point. I've been saying that for several years now. My point is, don't discount the guys they've brought in now because they're not big names. These guys are pretty good.

  • In reply to TomazPP:

    In reply to GR's last comment:

    I personally don't discount the guys they brought in. Igboananike, I'm not 100% sold on, but overall I have a relatively positive view of the new DPs.

    But I can't disagree with people who say the FO still isn't doing enough to keep pace with the upper level teams in the league. And in that capacity these DPs, despite being a considerable step above what Fire fans are used to, are still below what is viewed as top level.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    So is the idea here that its better to get a guy who's over the age of 34 and a marquee name, rather than an up and coming 24 year old?

    If so, that's madness.

    I like the Lampard/Gerrard/Kaka types as much as the next guy, but asking the Fire to go after a guy who's got a few seasons left over a younger guy with promise is ignoring the roots and cutting off the branches.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    Well that's a sweeping oversimplification.

    First of all, I don't want a team of Gerrards, but I'd take 1 Gerrard plus any 2 of the Fires other DPs and I think the Fire are better and have more butts in seats. Hands up who would take Igboananike over Gerrard?

    Second, which of Martins, Dempsey, Altidore, Keane, Donovan, Giovinco, Bradley were older than Maloney when they signed as a DP? Not every big name is old. Hell, Beckham, Kaka and Villa were all approximately the same age as Maloney when signed, too.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    If they turn things around and start winning games, the seats will fill. I tend to look at the longevity of guys like Pardo and Friedrich when the Fire have gone for a bigger name in that age bracket. Neither of those guys panned out as hoped because of age/injury, although both had some degree of drawing power (Pardo far more than Friedrich). Regardless, most guys over 34 are not going to be like Thierry Henry or David Beckham.

    To your second point, Kaka has yet to play a game in MLS, so when he signed the contract doesn't really matter. Same with Villa. Your point is valid on the others (although I think Altidore is grossly overvalued),

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    What makes these guys "up and coming?" Just because they are young? I get that there were some prem teams looking at Accam. That's fine. Does his signing make me excited for this season, no. Igboananike brings the same excitement as Gehrig and Stephens. DP's should be the best players on the team. If we have 3 of them, why cant 1 of them be exciting. We used all of ours to sign attacking players while we have absolute crap behind them. It sucks seeing that we sign a DP and the first response is "Who?" I dont think I should have to do extensive research to try and find out who the DP is. I shouldnt have to watch a 6 minute video of a forward that has just as many missed shots as goals. By signing a Gerrard/Lampard/Villa/Dempsey/Bradley/Altidore/Giovinco/Keane/Henry/Martins it shows that the team is trying to win. Like TomazPP said, bringing in one of those big names with 2 smaller names is fine. What's not okay with me, is bringing in a smaller name with 2 even smaller names.

    And Yallop needs to go.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Jeff Krause:

    Bingo! I would much much rather have Accam than Lampard at 36, halfway through the season and tired and beat up after coming straight over from a full premier league season and champions league campaign. He still looks good but come on, he will be 37 when he gets here...thats the same age as Thierry Henry...that other legend that is now RETIRED. How much do you really think they are going to get out of Lampard even though hes breaking their bank?

  • I'm cautiously optimistic with defensive reservations. These previous years of torture have left me reluctant to confess any enthusiasm until I see this reconstructed question mark producing positive results.

    I'm a fan there for reclamation, if they can WIN me back.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    I'm totally with you, Arklow. Things I like about the offseason:

    1) Making decisions on the existing roster quickly and decisively. That started with deciding on options. The Fire were one of the first clubs to announce whose options they were going to pick up and which ones not. I feel like that was a big difference from past years.

    2) Making additions early. Stephens, Gehrig, Igboananike, Jones, Accam, Adailton - all were announced before the new year. Guly 5 days into 2015. These guys will have a full preseason and more time to acclimate to the team, to the city.

    3) New players have experienced winter before. Maybe a minor point, but all the non-CONCACAF guys from the southern hemisphere have played in places in Europe with real winter conditions, with short cold days and long cold nights. Jones, presumably, has at least experienced the US, and I feel our busts have not been from the Caribbean, but from S America, and often these guys have not played in temperate climates before. Correct me if I'm wrong.

    4) Filling DP spots by paying salaries, not transfer fees. Bring out the list of failed Fire "DPs" who wouldn't get the label at a Seattle, LA, NYRB, even KC. Not all these guys may be proven at major European leagues, but they're up-and-coming. They have choices; MLS and the Fire are not a last-chance stop or a lark. Igboananike and moreso Accam are clearly trying to build their careers, and chose the Fire over other good options. If we get Maloney, you can't say that it's his only chance at getting a decent contract.

    5) Bringing in local guys. Chicago has a long and strong soccer history. Build the connections to the community.

    Things I don't like:

    1) Defense. I don't see the defensive leadership. Two key guys, Adailton and Jones, are unknown quantities. Adailton, in particular, HAS to work out. He has to if he's going to be the starting guy next to Larentowicz, a new CB, and we've lost our starting LB.

    2) Injuries to Nyarko and Magee. OK, not the fault of Yallop or Bliss, but worrying. Two key guys who have to play nice when they come back into the lineup. One bonus for Nyarko, though, is that I would count on him as a veteran in helping new guys, especially Accam and Igboananike, to transition.

    3) Shifting to a 4-3-3 is hard. Really hard. Matt Doyle the Armchair Analyst has done some good tactical analysis for MLSSoccer.com and has made this argument better than I can. US teams in particular normally play a version of a 4-4-2 and I see us struggling to adjust.

    4) Losing Jeff Crandall sucks. You should never shoot the messenger, but you could tell that he put his heart and soul into the club every day, and earned respect from the fans for it while delivering a lot of bad news. He's irreplaceable, and if the club turns a corner, he deserves some salad days after serving as the mouthpiece for an organization during a period of decline.

  • And what is the rest of the league doing? Toronto FC adds another DP, signing 27-year-old Italian international Sebastian Giovinco from Juventus
    JANUARY 19, 2015

  • In reply to shortpasses:

    No doubt, that is a huge pick up. But we really needed a Maloney type player for a long long time. Depends on who you ask, but he's either way underrated or overrated, but a solid playmaker is a must. He's not flashy, but will get the job done in MLS.

  • Hearing that Kyle Reynish will be dealt to the Red Bulls.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Ok, he barely showed. But I'm wondering, are we getting their back up keeper as well?

  • In reply to waamsy:

    No but rounds 3-4 of the draft is tomorrow.

  • Sounds more competitive. People who know, Maloney has won some serious silverware in his career, topped off by the FA Cup recently. I'm interested in how he can help the team play for the USOC.

  • Reynish trade announced.

    Fire get a 2016 third round pick from New York in exchange.

  • In the 3rd round of the Super Draft, Seattle chose Andy Craven. Seattle's pick was acquired from the Fire in the Anibaba trade. So if I understand correctly, the Fire traded a 3rd pick and Jalil Anibaba for 2 players they did not want and Seattle gets a player they like (Jalil) and drafts a Herman trophy finalist who led the NCAA in scoring. Do all teams approach the Fire first when they want to get rid of their players? Here is a segment from MLS.com on Craven:

    North Carolina forward and Hermann Trophy finalist Andy Craven is headed to the Seattle Sounders, after he was taken with the sixth pick in Round 3 of the MLS SuperDraft on Tuesday.

    Craven’s selection was one of the biggest headlines of Rounds 3 and 4 of the draft, which was conducted via teleconference call with representatives from all 20 MLS clubs.

    Craven scored 15 goals and added five assists in 22 appearances during his senior season for the Tar Heels, and was named to NSCAA’s All-American First Team. He finished the season tied for the national lead in goals scored, and was a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy.

  • Btw, Anibaba was left unprotected in the expansion draft by Seattle. He was picked by Orlando City and then traded to Sporting KC.

  • I'd rather have Anibaba on our roster as well as the pick back.

  • Bring up Anibaba reminds me why I'm so worried about Jones and Adailton on the backline. Yallop's moves last year leave me with zero confidence that he can build a decent backline. I don't think Anibaba and Berry are/were great players. They are servicable but young and relatively cheap and Berry had potential (I don't see much potential in Anibaba). And gosh darn if Hurtado and Ianni weren't worse in every way.
    Now the backline looks weak again and I have zero trust for Yallop. I hope he didn't make the same dumb gambles.

  • Off season is not over yet. Imagine if Arne joined at this time. That said, I know we haven't been after that big DP, but we could sure use that big DP signing on a center half.

  • The Ghana FA tweeted a photo of David Accam with Avram Grant in a press conference today in preparation for the match tomorrow against Algeria.

    Haven't been able to find other news about the press conference yet, I don't think the FA put Accam in the presser to announce he would be on the bench, considering that Gyan only trained lightly today since he's still recovering from malaria, and Jordan Ayew gt a lot of stick for blowing opportunities against Senegal in their first match.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Good point. Maybe he starts tomorrow since a lot press over there thought he would start on Monday.

  • Ante Razov hired as assistant cpacha in Seattle. Fire's next coach?

  • In reply to Krasov:

    It will probably be a move for Trevor James from scouting to the bench.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I meant a replacement for Yallop when he's shown the door in November.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    This is Yallop's chance, which is why I am partly excited. He has no excuses since this should be considered his team this year. An intriguing and risky pickup would be Alexandre Pato who is currently in Brazil (how in the world did that happen!?)

  • In reply to waamsy:

    Pato's mostly disappeared over the last few years (probably due to injury) and he's not exactly lighting it up in Brazil.
    Why another forward?

  • BBC/ESPN have reported Maloney deal is done and the signng should be announced imminently

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