Fire wrap trade heavy draft day with 3 new players

Nelson Rodriguez's wheeling and dealing during the MLS SuperDraft has resulted in the addition of Stanford left back Brandon Vincent, North Carolina CB Jonathan Campbell, and North Florida midfielder Alex Morrell. By selecting Jack Harrison with the first pick, it also enabled the Fire to gain allocation money from New York City FC along with Vincent via trade.

If you consider Josh Yaro a right back, as many do, one can argue that the Fire's haul included the top left back and center back available in the draft today. Rodriguez wasn't done with that first deal. He also sent Joevin Jones to Seattle in exchange for even more allocation money and the 15th pick. He then dealt the 15th and 33rd picks to Colorado for the 12th selection that landed Campbell, and the 22nd that brought Morrell. That move also included a swap of allocation spots with the Rapids, who are reportedly interested in Alejandro Bedoya.

The Jones deal may have caught some by surprise and there are indications that he was looking for a substantial raise over his 2015 salary, but Rodriguez said that didn't play into the move. "Joevin Jones was a player that was coveted by many teams around the league, and over the course of the entire off season there had been steady offers being made for his services. Through the Combine, and as we got closer to the Draft, those offers increased. It got to the point where, in the scenario we thought could be viable, securing Brandon Vincent could enable us to move Joevin's service and in return get a draft pick that we felt we could convert into a player and add more money to our allocation war chest," said the Fire's General Manager.

We may likely never know what the amount of allocation money acquired today was but Rodriguez says it was substantial enough to get further into the transfer market for an attacking midfielder. "Now we can go back into the international market, and in addition to hopefully the finalization of our center backs, look at some central midfield players. Players that we believe can make a difference. Players that are very hard to find domestically. We believe the results of today's dealing having accelerated our program," he said. "An important factor of all of the allocation money we received today, is that it also allows us to make mid season moves if it's necessary or if it's desired."

The Fire needed to address the back line and they've done so today. Vincent, who is currently in US National Team camp, and Campbell seem to be players that can compete for time now. The selections are not an indication that the international defenders the team is looking to add aren't coming either. The Fire have at least one center back signed and an offer pending to another. Rodriguez still sounded hopeful on the second European center back.

"We think Jonathan (Campbell) is a good player, who could become a really good player," he said. "In an ideal world we'd love for him to play a bit, but ultimately learn from the center backs that we bring in. This is part of building a championship program where you start to build succession planning. We have said that our priority is center back and we expect to introduce some experience to help the younger players."

On Monday, Rodriguez said that he wasn't concerned with the perception of inactivity by some fans because he felt a plan was in the works. That plan was on full display today as he helped initiate one of the more active and interesting days in MLS Draft history. The trades may be done for a while, but there is more to come shortly.

"We're not actively looking to trade any of the players we have under contract. With that said, we will always consider offers that may improve our team," replied Rodriguez to an inquiry about the other signed players on the roster.

The next week will also be busy as the Fire prepare for players reporting on January 24.


  • The Jones trade leaves the Fire with only two internationals on the roster. Gilberto and Kennedy Igboananike. David Accam has a green card.
  • Campbell said that he has some versatility and can play outside if needed. He played in a three man back line in college.
  • Vincent played left back in high school and freshman year in college at center back.
  • Rodriguez credited Matt Pearson for excellent scouting. Pearson is Director of Youth Development for Fire Juniors West.
  • Stay tuned....


Filed under: 2016 Pre Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • When I think of "succession planning" and bringing up younger players, I think of Logan Pause in his playing days.

    I also get why the cards were kept so close to the chest, what with all these moves. Was nice to see them make NYC say "uncle."

    Here's hoping that in the end, this pudding tastes good. #ProveIt

  • A satisfying day, finally. Now let's see some more Fire-works!

  • I am very impressed by Nelson Rodriguez 's work today.

    Seems clear that the guy he wanted was Vincent. He not only got his guy but finagled some allocation money out of NYC while doing so.

    Vincent made Jones expendable so Rodriguez converted him into another 1st round pick and some more $$$$.

    Then by reportedly dangling the first allocation pick he forced the Rapids into a trade which improved the position of the Fire's picks from 15 & 33 to 12 & 22. He then converted those picks into Capbel and Morrell (spelling?). In at least one mock draft by the experts Campbell had been projected to go as high as #4.

    So, the Fire added two promising defenders and generated enough $$$ to add another player from the transf'er market beyond the originally planned two centerbacks (if they can land the second one).

    If you ask me that is a very impressive day's work.

  • In reply to Charles Jogues:

    I think this is the first post of yours that I completely agree with. It was a fantastic draft for a rebuilding team. It allows us to potentially be decent now, while looking very good in our future.

  • Enjoyable draft. I think Vincent starts day one. Campbell will have to earn playing time if the two euros arrive. Morrell will have to compete for second half sub time. If his defense is strong, he could see more time. Good day to be a Fire fan.

  • Happy with the Vincent pick and a CB at 12. Surprised the Union passed on Vincent at 3. Perhaps the non GA salary was a consideration. Did the JJ trade happen before we got Vincent, or after, in which case the Fire knew he would be available at 4. I couldn't tell from the quote.
    I wonder why they don't reveal the european CB they have already signed? Visa? paperwork etc? what else is there after he signs?

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    I wonder what the plan is for RB. Is Campbell going to be fighting for time there? Do they see Gehrig as more of a RB or are they still looking to sign someone at that spot. They just havent mentioned it. Every time they talk about defence, its about CB. I havent seen Kingsley Bryce play but all indications point to him just being a backup, so who starts at RB? Gehrig could but he was better in the middle IMO.
    I will say it again, I thought Chicago won the draft yesterday and made some very smart and well thought out moves but I still think getting rid of JJ was a mistake. A good indication is the amount of offers they got for him...theres a reason so many clubs wanted him. He's young, fast, technical, versatile and already regularly starting and scoring for a very good T&T team. So what if he wanted a raise, give it to him, he deserved it. If you trade players every time they want/deserve a raise, you will never have any consistency. I would love to know the exact amount of allocation $ they got for him.

  • In reply to Carl Miller:

    I think they would have given Jones the raise, but I think in the long term Vincent versus Jones was probably viewed as a wash. I don't necessarily think that is a bad move. But a lot does depend on the funny money received.

    RB is still a question mark (is it ever not a question mark?). I'd like to see someone more suited then Gehrig there, but if the Fire solidify central defence, fullbacks become less of an issue and Gehrig might be adequate.

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    In reply to TomazPP:

    I think Vincent will turn out to be a better option at LB than JJ was, but I think JJ had a lot of talent wasted playing in the LB spot. Anyone who watches him with T&T knows he should be played higher up the field. Unfortunately, with the formation I am guessing Chicago will use going forward and the presence of Accam on the LW, he would have a hard time finding a vacancy in the starting XI that suited his abilities. However, it sounds like Seattle will probably use him at LB as well which is also unfortunate...

  • In reply to Carl Miller:

    I'm of the same mind about all of this. In MLS it's hard to justify holding onto an in-demand player who wants a starter's salary and wont be starting. They probably made the right move.

  • In reply to TomazPP:

    Right back. The scab that never seems to heal.

  • Former Fire midfielder Matt Watson has signed with the Carolina Railhawks.

    Per ESPN, the Rapids are now pursuing Tim Howard after Alejandro Bedoya turned down a move.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Do you think Fire make a move for Bedoya with the number 2 allocation spot since rapids seem to be after Timmy? I know Nantes shot down the rumor, but Twellmen (unfortunately because he's a dick) is right about transfer rumors a lot and I feel like if he "heard" MLS is trying to get Bedoya, they probably are/were.

    Bedoya would also fit a need in Cmid.


  • In reply to TomazPP:

    I haven't heard his name in connection with the Fire at all.

  • My head is still spinning... I'd like to see a chart of the moves and results to get my head around it. I have to take NR's word that things unfolded as he (and Pauno) had planned. At this point it seems clever... we'll see as other acquisitions are made and finally when the team hits the field in March.

    In terms of JJ, I think that his value to the Fire, regardless of what he did last year, depends a lot on Pauno's vision for the team. If he feels he can take a young, promising guy like Vincent and mold him to his patterns (I won't say his system, because he has said he's not planning to play one single system), then maybe JJ was more expendable.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Seeing it all unfold in real time, it seemed to me that NR was very deliberate in what he was doing. Very smart on his part to get the guy NYCFC wanted, and trade him for the pick and TAM.

    There's be quite a bit of hush hush from Rodriguez the last few months in regards to methodology and the HOW of getting to where he wants the club to get, but yesterday, at least in my mind, was a great move in the right direction.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    Oh, no, agree. He handed NYCFC a barrel to hug. Dude's showing himself to be crafty. This gives me the impression that we're (probably?) not going to have badly structured DP/Trade/Transfer deals (first example, Fernandez from Seattle) while he's in office. Probably, cause time will tell. But here's hoping.

  • Guys when you think the whole day out here is what happened. The fire drafted a good left defensive player and traded a good left defensive player. The drafted a center fullback that had a bad combine and a lower ranked midfielder. In addition the moved down on the list for a international player and got some money. In most people's opinion after all the hype we are about where we were before the draft but with a bit more allocation money. The entire deal is who they get in the international market. Did anyone see poor Vincent's face when he heard that he was going to work for Hauptman.

  • In reply to Brokerman:

    Wasn't sure if I was the only one who noticed that... It definitely felt like a muted response...

  • In reply to seaside:

    Frankly, I feel bad for any poor player that is condemned to go to work in Bridgeview. I think these guys are just aware that the Fire are in last place - a lot of them don't seem to know much about the league - but if I were to offer neutral advice, I would tell them to look elsewhere.

    But, it's a draft, so they don't have that choice if they want to play in MLS..

  • In reply to Brokerman:

    You are speaking like someone who expects us to be any good this season. We are so far away from being any good. We are going to be awful this year, but we will be young. The past few years, we have been terrible and old. I like what the Fire did yesterday. Vincent appears to have all of the tools to be a great left back for a long time. A good defensive left back is hard to find. Jones was good going forward, but terrible at defending. That was mostly because he never played there in his career. Vincent was a steal at 4.

    Campbell was an All-American center back this year. We had to go all of last season with Adailton, Big Red, and Eric Gehrig as our only centerbacks. We are already in a better position defensively with Vincent and Campbell than we were with Big Red and Jones. These were great moves IMO. These moves were made with an eye for the future. When was the last time we could say that? +1 for NR.

  • Guys ever team has a proven coach with a good solid base ( other than Philly) and we are all excited about three rookies. If any one of them other tha the first pick is starting we are in big trouble. Please tell me why the one position on the field that we had pretty good depth with doody and jones had to be replaced. There is a very real adage in soccer is that you have to be strong down the middle. As of now we have no central defense no good dealing center mid and a center forward that get hurt getting out of bed.

  • In reply to Brokerman:

    We are in trouble this season even if none of these rookies played at all. We just got rid of a coach who dug us into such a hole, that it is going to take more than one off season to get out of. For the first time in a while, the FO was making moves to set us up for success in the future. We have been building teams for the "right now" and it has clearly not worked for us. If Vincent and Campbell turn out to be the players that they are projected to be, we will have a core of very good young players in our future. (Polster, Shipp, Campbell, and Vincent)

    Thats how you build a good MLS team. You have to have a very solid team and then use the DP contracts to add that touch of class. The Jones trade was perfect. JJ was fantastic going forward for us. He was one of the signings of the season last year before he went to the Gold Cup with T&T where he played as a winger and remembered that he was very good there. He then had to come back and play defense because we never had the ball. He was awful in the second half of the season when we needed him. We got a first round pick and money for a player that couldn't really do the things that we needed him to do. That is a win/win for the club, IMO. We just drafted the best LB and CB available.

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