As expected, the Fire have announced that Arturo Alvarez has signed with the club. The MLS veteran played well enough during his preseason trial to pick up a one year deal with an option for 2017. He should compete for a spot at right midfield come Sunday.
The Fire have been busy with Dutch players this offseason. Johan Kappelhof and John Goossens figure to play important roles right away. General Manager Nelson Rodriguez said this past Monday that landing a trial for Goossens worked out very well for both sides.
"I would love to tell you that it was the work of brilliant scouting, but candidly it wasn't," said Rodriguez. "It was more a product of having good relations with people who know me and know Pauno, who believed that John's style would fit well with what we were trying to do. They provided us with the opportunity to consider him and we invited him in. I must say, John is an incredible professional. He gets off the plane from travelling all night and Pauno says to him, 'would you like a day or two to rest or acclimate to the time zone to get ready?', he said 'no sir, I came here to win a job'. And he did."
Veljko Paunovic is also bullish on what Goossens can contribute. "His understanding of the game and his ability of scoring goals, assisting, and (being) a hard working player is something that we need for this team. We saw in the games that we played, that he can play in different positions and different systems. It's a great addition for us," said the Fire's first year coach.
Goossens echoed that ability to be flexible in describing his preferred position on the field. "It depends on the system but usually I'm underneath the striker or as a left or right midfielder," he said earlier this week.
Both players used the web to find out more about their new destination but Chicago Fire wasn't completely unknown to them before signing with the club. "We saw a lot on the internet. It's really hard to follow the league on television in Europe. I was interested a couple of years ago in MLS and I started searching on the internet. I'm excited to be here," said Goossens. Kappelhof had a similar view. "If I though about MLS, there was a few clubs I knew. There was Chicago Fire, LA Galaxy, New York Red Bull, so I knew the club. For myself, I looked on the internet for some more information," said the defender who says centerback is his best position, but he can also play left or right back.
Goossens has had some serious injury issues since his days in the Ajax youth system. He hopes those days are behind him and the Fire have signed him to a two-year deal with an option for a third. "I'm fully fit. Every player has his history, but I'm full fit right now," he said.
Both players seem to realize that 2016 is a work in progress with Chicago but are both optimistic that things can turn around. "I think we did a great job (in preseason). Portland is the champion of last season, so if you win on their home ground it's a great job," said Goossens.
"The whole back line, compared to last season is new so we have to get used to each other. That's why we trained good, and hard in Portland. We did good in that (last) game and that's a good sign for this season," said Kappelhof of the favorable results over the last few weeks.
Goossens appears to be genuinely happy about the opportunity in MLS and said the experience so far compares favorably to other stops during his career. "Here in the US, everything is so professional. It's high level. Everything from cleats, from the clothes, on to the pitch. Everything is high level. I'm really happy and satisfied with the situation. I just want to play games."
He's also aware of the fan support demanding his signing after scoring a golazo against the University of Portland. "I heard about it," he said. "I've made some good goals and hopefully I will make more like that."
Goossens will be available once his visa paperwork clears. There is now word yet on whether or not that will happen in time for Sunday.
In pursuit of Adu and others
The Fire are interested in adding Ghanaian midfielder Enoch Kofi Adu to the roster but this report claims that a deal was turned down yesterday.
The horse has not been buried yet in targeting FC Groningen attacker Michael de Leeuw either.
The Fire are apparently still pursuing several options in midfield and on the attacking side.
Several Fire and Chicago notables have taken to supporting Peter Wilt's NASL venture. CJ Brown. Eric Wynalda, and former Sting owner Lee Stern talk about their backing of the idea here. Interestingly, Stern notes local ownership as an important factor in Chicago success.
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