Fire offseason update/rumor rundown

After passing on players available in today's Waiver Draft, the Fire will have another chance to add to their roster on Friday with Stage 1 of the Re-Entry Draft taking place at 2 pm CT. While it doesn't sound like they'll be active on Friday either, Nelson Rodriguez and Veljko Paunovic are continuing their scouting travels outside of the US. Central and South America appear to be the current regional focus.

With 16 players under contract at the moment, the next few weeks should provide some news although it's likely that most of the "big" additions will have to wait until January when the European transfer window officially opens.

The Fire are still in for Manchester United's Bastian Schweinsteiger but two major obstacles remain in the way before that can be finalized. Schweinsteiger is under contract until 2018 and a buy-out agreement between the player and club doesn't appear close to being settled. Various reports have set United's buy-out offer at $11 million but it appears that Schweinsteiger's side is holding out for more. MLS/Chicago isn't looking to pony up an exorbitant transfer fee to help Manchester United recoup Schweinsteiger's $17m/year wage either. According to several sources, the current package on the table would land Schweinsteiger at somewhere in the vicinity of a $7m/year annual cost assuming a buy-out is completed.

United Manager Jose Mourinho has engaged in recent public support of the player by adding him to the 18-man squad for a match earlier this week and telling reporters that he "expects him to stay" at the club. This could all be posturing by Mourinho as options for a player he doesn't intend to use appear to be drying up. Chances are this won't be resolved until some time in January considering the parties and dollars involved.

The Fire's other major target this offseason is Legia Warsaw striker Nemanja Nikolic. The Yugoslavian-born Hungarian attacker has publicly stated that he's looking to make a move but appears to have suitors in Turkey, China, and England. MLS or China are the current front-runners with an expected resolution before the New Year. Nikolic and his agent appear to be more interested in Chicago but are looking to maximize the offer before deciding.

The back-up plan for Nikolic is indeed Panathinaikos forward Marcus Berg as reported by ESPN FC's Jeff Carlisle last week. Like Nikolic, his contract runs through 2018 and a transfer fee would be involved but the numbers are more manageable than the dollars thrown around in a potential Schweinsteiger move.

Should none of these top three targets work out, the Fire still hold a Discovery claim on Andres Guardado but talks with his preferred destination in Atlanta are dead regarding a January move. Guardado, who also has another year remaining on his contract has apparently priced himself out of an MLS move this year and PSV Eindhoven is looking to retain him or cash in with a substantial transfer fee. A move for him to Chicago, or anywhere else within MLS at this time seems highly unlikely.

Plans to pursue Brad Guzan as a replacement for Sean Johnson apparently backfired when Atlanta accepted a trade for Johnson only to resume interest in Guzan after agreeing to the deal with Chicago. The expansion side now seems set on using their top Allocation ranking in order to add Guzan following a trade of Johnson to New York City FC. Shrewd business on Atlanta's part landed them extra MLS-funny money but they still need to sign Guzan, who may prefer playing closer to home if given a choice with even money.

The current situation leaves the Fire without a clear number one goalkeeper but don't expect the Fire to spend big on that spot. One player that is not under consideration is Club America 'keeper Moises Munoz. The 36-year old is not on Chicago's radar despite rumors to the contrary.

Rodriguez and Paunovic still need to fill spots at right back, goalkeeper, and midfield even if the top two targets are in Chicago come the opening of camp in late January. Some of those spots could be filled by MLS veterans, but again those deals aren't likely to be formalized until January. Saprissa midfielder Marvin Angulo has been rumored as a target with both Rodriguez and Paunovic spending some time this winter scouting in Costa Rica.

David Accam, who is currently under contract for this year plus an option for 2018 has been looking to increase his salary to the $2m/year range which has resulted in an impasse in extension negotiations with the club. Accam is expected to be with the team this year under the terms of his current deal regardless of whether or not an extension is negotiated.

On the Homegrown front, University of North Carolina Freshman Cameron Lindley could join the team this summer if he decides he wants to leave school after one year. The decision is up to Lindley, as it is with UNC teammate Victor Pineda. Once again, those decisions won't be finalized until January. Lindley is a highly regarded box-to-box midfielder who was the only Freshman named to the the NSCAA first, second, or third team Division 1 best eleven rosters last week. He was selected to the second team and named Top Drawer Soccer's Freshman of the Year this week. Pineda is a center back who can also play outside.

With training camp opening in a little less than 6 weeks the offseason will heat up shortly.

Fire training camp dates/locations set

Following Stage 1 and 2 of the Re-Entry Draft on December 16 and 22, the MLS Combine from January 7-12, and the SuperDraft on January 13, the Fire report for training at the Private Bank Fire Pitch on January 23.

They will train there until January 28 before departing for the next phase of training at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Florida from January 29 until February 10. The final phase of camp will take place at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida from February 13-26.

The annual Season Kick-Off Luncheon is set for February 27.

The preseason game schedule has yet to be announced.

Under contract

The 16 players with 2017 contracts are:

GK: Lampson

DEF: Campbell, Kappelhof, Meira, Vincent, Harrington, Doody

MID: Accam, Alvarez, Goossens, Polster, Fernandez, Conner, Calistri

FWD: De Leeuw, Arshakyan

MLS expansion

The league released the guidelines and parameters for the next round of expansion today. Fire owner Andrew Hauptman is listed as one of the five members of the expansion committee reviewing applicants.

Teams 25 and 26 will pay an entry fee of $150 million with 10 markets currently in the running.



Filed under: 2016 Post Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • I love Lamp(son)

  • what applicable knowledge does hauptman have for vetting potential expansion owners? How to run a team into the ground a piss off your supporters?

  • In reply to edubs:

    I love it how this is considered a top priority for new ownership.

    "1. A committed local ownership group that has a passion for the sport, a deep belief in Major League Soccer and the resources to invest in the infrastructure to build the sport in their respective market."

    And Andy does that how? He is local how? Apparently Andy wasn't vetted that hard when he bought #cf97.

  • In reply to edubs:

    Hauptman is a great owner. As you can clearly see "The organization however remains steadfast in its commitment to winning games and being a model franchise for business practice."

  • I'm staving to death for something resembling good news. Where is Chicago's Lodiero, Valeri, Higuian, Almiron? These are playmakers that came to their respective teams in their prime. The Fire have little (none?) sense of excitement or hope surrounding them. Schweinstiger? P L E A S E. The dude is 32 with bad knees. Like he will come in to MLS and be able match the fitness and durability necessary to compete consistently and long term. Other teams build, load, or reload. Chicago gets "processed." Rodriguez got one thing correct in his end of the year news conference. The team has five games to show something next year.

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    So if they're not going to be active in the re-entry draft how are they going to fill a majority of the roster with only three international spots left on the roster?

  • In reply to Jimmy Garcia:

    Phase 2 and free agency. I was referring to Phase 1 on Friday.

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    In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    In your opinion, will there be any decent players left by phase 2 of the re-entry draft after the Uniteds pick?

  • In reply to Jimmy Garcia:

    Historically, there has not been much player movement in the Re-Entry Draft and that may be due to a player being guaranteed 110% of his previous salary if selected. (Not sure if this is still the case; the draft rules on the MLS website refer to "option price" and "genuine offer" pertaining to compensation.) So, you would select a player if you really wanted him and you thought it was worthwhile to give him a 10% raise. (Dallas grabbing Urruti last year is a great example.) Because most of these players were rejected by their previous clubs, they are not what you call a hot commodity.

    So a club can roll the dice and see whether a player can make it through the draft unselected. The odds are high that he will. If he does, he becomes a free agent and anyone can sign him for any price.

    A team like the Fire cannot afford to be too picky and I think that there are a few players on that list that would be worth drafting and paying that premium.

  • In reply to StaryByk3:


  • In reply to Jimmy Garcia:


  • And we are screwed by the FO like always...

  • There are some decent pieces in free agency that the FO should be making a push for. Myers and Franklin would be good shouts for a RB. Will Johnson would look good next to Polster in the middle. Pappa would be a decent option to have back. Beasley could offer some veteran leadership to Vincent at LB.

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    In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Ha those were just about the same names i was looking at and for the same reasons. I think Johnson may be the best name on the list. theres some bigger names but they are well into their thirties. Another name i might add is Marvell Wynne. We wouldnt need him as a CB but I know he can play RB too and has more than enough speed to be effective on both sides of the ball in that position. considering the number of domestic roster slots Chicago needs to fill I have to think they are looking to sign at least two free agents. I doubt they go for Pappa as they have two players that play in his position and have a similar style (less speed, more technical) and NR seems to be apposed to anyone who wore a fire jersey for more than a season.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Johnson isn't good enough to start. He would definitely be a great depth player to have - someone to bring on late with tons of experience.

  • In reply to Ahan Jain:

    90% of that free agency list is good enough to start for our club.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    Why? Since our players suck. :)

  • Guys

    This is almost exactly like last year. Remember the team talking about some polish center fullback and how good the team would be with him. Forget it hey when in the heck did NR turn in a scout?

    Interesting NR never moved his family to Chicago . He rented a small apartment just in case he follows the other GM and gets the boot. I predict Pauno out by Mid June. and NR by mid 18 or maybe earlier if the team is sold. It looks as if the coming year could be the worst in the history of the Fire ticket sales dept?

  • In reply to Brokerman:

    I think that if we will turn a corner it's this year. Let's give Nelson the transfer window in January see what he does and if he doesn't do shit well then yippy...

  • GR - Do you ever see MLS trying to match what China is doing or do you see MLS lag behind? It is just that the Chinese clubs aren't just trying to sign older stars but they are signing players that are considered in the prime of their careers. Some of those players would be great for the league like Oscar, Fabregas, Tevez, etc. How come the league won't try to sign these types of players?

  • In reply to penapirata:

    Is this a serious question? Oscar is the only player you mentioned who is in his prime and he is poised to get $24 million if he moves to China.

    That is more than the entire payroll of the top spending MLS club.

    There is no way MLS can compete with China given the small US market, little international interest in the league, and the salary cap.

    A smart MLS team would think of itself as a "selling" team and focus on youth development and selling young talent to Europe.

    I am not sure if anyone follows this model [and the strange ownership structure of MLS probably makes it difficult], but it seems to me that it is the only way to make MLS relevant to fans who can easily consume the best leagues on TV every week.

    I grew up a Fire fan, but because of the poor ownership, I gradually lost interest. I went from season ticket holder, to going to a handful of games and watching the rest on TV, to going to one or two games a year and watching the occasional game on TV, to going to zero games & watching the occasoinal game on TV, to going to zero games and not watching the Fire at all.

    That has also eroded my interest in MLS. I can't even tell you who won the MLS Cup (wasn't it Montreal v. Seattle) or who the supporters shield winner was this year. I've been more interested in EPL, La Liga and the Bundesliga. Each weekend I have half a dozen matches on my DVR, none from MLS.

    I just check this site to watch the trainwreck, to be honest.

    But MLS really isn't competitive internationally. Certainly they can't hold a candle to China.

  • In reply to penapirata:

    The insane amount of money that China is spending at the moment is in part politically motivated. I don't see the league getting to that point any time soon.

  • #ClownShow

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    I'm guessing that AH is on that committee to try to speed up a team sale. Saving that $150 million expansion fee could be quite alluring to a prospective new owner. Otherwise AH is there to be an example of exactly what not to do. 

    As for Will Johnson, he didn't exactly take too kindly to being offered a $28,000 contract by CF97 back in 2005. There's less than a zero percent chance we resign him. I don't really see us being too active in free agency as NR historically seems quite opposed to signing players that have already played in MLS for some reason. 

    Regarding the many open roster spots and limited international slot vacancies I'm guessing that the FO is going to be working the draft and homegrown fronts pretty hard. As GR pointed out Lindley and Pineda are key targets and I'd guess they're going after Lillard and Gutman at IU as well. After all homegrowns and draft picks are cheap options...

  • As far as Lindley, he should stay in college. He'll get more playing time and develop better as a player. I say that with a straight face.

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    In reply to BrianC.:

    I agree with you there. Same with Pineda. I only say as much because he's being rumored to be weighing going pro. With CF97 being in such turmoil it'd be best for both of them to play another year of college ball. It's not as though Pauno would play them and our USL situation seems pretty nonexistent. I do have a feeling we might get Lillard and/or Gutman though.

  • GR are you hearing any reactions around the league about AH being involved in the expansion committee? Fire fans cant be the only ones who think he's bad for the league. Im not shocked that the guys from ET Radio didnt talk about it at all in their latest podcast because there was way too much Galaxy related news to go over, and LA is an under covered team (eye roll).

    I feel like AH being apart of this committee is similar to recent presidential cabinet appointments. Sorry for bringing up politics, but i feel it's the best "what are we taking crazy pills" comparison that could be made. AH is probably the very last person on the planet that should be apart of that committee, except maybe Sep Blater. He's the only worse choice i can think of at the moment.

  • In reply to AJties:

    The Galaxy are so neglected......bigly.

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    In reply to AJties:

    ET Radio is run by the league, and they're not going to throw one of their owners under the bus no matter how bad the club is run.

  • Guillermo, any truth to the rumors the Ricketts family are interested in purchasing the team?

  • In reply to jimmyblackcloud:

    Offseason rumor mill is the best.

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    In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    It is unreal how much optimism those 6 words arranged in that order could inspire all without saying much of anything in particular.

  • Next year will be more of the same. We'll see too little too late and additional issues will arise. I anticipate David Accam having "family problems" not being able to sign Schweinsteiger or the Legia guy. Lampson will be the starting keeper and we will be the first team in MLS to have finished last for 3 years in a row. This is going to happen until we get Chivas'ed. Andrew Hauptman has run this club into the ground and Nelson Rodriguez is making sure the damage is beyond repair.

  • In reply to john:

    I think MLS needs to put an expansion team in Chicago. That should put the final nail in the coffin. Then they should give Andy his choice. Fold the franchise or accept demotion to USL. That would be a proper reward for the deeds he's done to us here in Chicago. And a proper return on his "investment."

  • In reply to Arklow:

    An expansion is Chicago would be the worst. We already have a team there is no point in putting another MLS team. Even though it would add pressure on Andy the pro/rel would add much more. An NASL team or a USL team would make more sense since they are smaller.

  • In reply to Ahan Jain:

    The last post on the NASL Chicago site was in late March. I'm sure some of GR's readers must have heard more about their intentions.

    That said, NASL is dying and desperately needs to (re)merge with USL if it is to survive. With the growing MLS - USL cooperation it's hard to imagine USL putting another team in Chicago, and if NASL wants the merger, entering the Chicago market now would, at a minimum, make things more complicated.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Sorry, posted too soon. This is from Empire of Soccer:

    "Soccer executive Peter Wilt, who is heading up the Chicago expansion, has reportedly been instrumental in attracting several new ownership prospects. He and his group, Club 9 Sports, have taken a leadership role, hoping to preserve the competition.They presented four potential groups at the league’s Board of Governors meeting earlier this month. It is unclear which markets are involved, outside of his Chicago group."

    Still, it's pretty iffy and there's a fly-by-night feel to the whole thing. How strong will any new franchises actually be if they're getting rushed into starting play in 2017?

  • In reply to Modibo:

    That's true the NASL is dead. I think they gave to somehow firm more teams in merge with the USL. both would be hard

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    In reply to Arklow:

    As much as I appreciate your enthusiasm regarding #Hauptmanout (trust me, I'm right there with you), there's virtually no chance MLS adds an expansion team to Chicago.

    I'm fairly certain that CF97s deal with Bridgeview specifically forbids MLS from adding another team to the city/suburbs. Even if that wasn't the case it would sure look pretty pathetic if MLS couldn't make a franchise work in a top 4 market league-wide... 

    Obviously no one involved in the hierarchy of MLS wants Hauptman running this team as he simply doesn't have deep enough pockets to actually compete and has all but destroyed interest in pro soccer in Chicago. NR was/is an MLS stooge that I'm pretty sure was put in place specifically to push  AH towards a team sale. The fact that Hauptman was put on the committee to vet prospective new owners is quite clearly the leagues attempt to get AH in more direct contact with potential buyers so they can speed up a club sale. Buying an already existing franchise in/nearby a major marketplace has to be pretty appealing to a potential new owner and this committee give AH direct access to these investors.  

    There are just about no moves this organization could possibly make anymore that would restore the fans faith aside from a team sale. I absolutely believe it is only a matter of time now before Hauptmanout is a reality. In the meantime I'd expect next season to be Wooden Spoon status or damn close to it yet again.

  • In reply to Joe Brancato:

    What does it says of the state of affairs that just making the playoffs is our primary aspiration?

    Then again, it was also Toronto's for the longest time...

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    In reply to BrianC.:

    I know, the FO can't even lie well lol...

  • guys the fact that the worst team in the leeage has no news is enough to realize that nothing is actually happening. The fire will have a couple of drafted guys and a couple of lower level european guys but nothing to the excitment of atlanta. Please nobody buy and tickets from this bum.

  • In reply to Brokerman:

    Will too late now just renewed those Section 8 season tickets...

    Also.your. Wrong. Dude the transfer window hasn't even opened yet! It's impossible to bring in players when the window is not open plus Nikolic will likely come here. Wait for the window to open and then make your accausations you can't make anything happen unless the window isn't open. This is unthoughtful critism.

  • In reply to Ahan Jain:

    100% correct . This is not a easy job to have. I bet u anything that it toke a hell of a lot of stress and time to do the business for Nikolic. They easily could had gotten a striker from the Turkish 2nd league but they persuaded nikolic to come here. Same thing with Bastian. Even though he is old (not really compared to Lampard) he brings that huge experience that can help grow Polster and any young cm on the roster which is what we want. I know that 16 million for 3 years isn't necessary for a player that has a chance of being injured but hey, atleast the Fire is trying and that's all that matters. Can't wait when the Transfer Window opens, it's gonna be very interesting and determine if I get myself some season tickets.

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    In reply to Firefan5819:

    Of course acquiring good players is not an easy job to have when ownership and the FO have a history of being cheap and treating players and fans poorly... It seems like nearly every other team in the league can acquire good players, I have absolutely zero sympathy for AH/NR as they are responsible (mainly AH) for these hurdles. If their jobs are too hard maybe they're in the wrong business... 

    As for Nikolic, I'll be excited when he is regularly scoring goals for us and not for a second before then. I don't follow the Polish league but from what I gather it's nowhere near as physical or defensively oriented as MLS is. Also, from what I've seen of  Niko's style of play he relies heavily upon receiving good service from midfield and we currently have just about zero players capable of playmaking or sending quality crosses into the box... I think his transition will be challenging but trust me I really hope this guy is the real deal. What can I say, I've been let down before...

    Regarding Schweinsteiger I won't hold my breathe. I'd rather we spend the money on a CAM with a name but if this is the most world class player we can sign then we have to do it because when healthy he absolutely would improve our team and would sell tickets/jerseys. More so than anything I just need to see AH spend Keane-money at least once before he sells the club. Also if we do sign BS you can guarentee a team sale is around the corner because there's no way AH spends Keane-money for more than one season... 

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    In reply to Firefan5819:

    Would be extremely surprised if Shweinsteiger comes to Chicago.

  • In reply to Carl Miller:

    I mean I don't mind him but I don't see Hauptmann agreeing to pay his 16mil contract

  • In reply to Firefan5819:

    He's not getting $16m per season here.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    For 3 years

  • In reply to Firefan5819:

    More like 21 over 3 years.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    When does the deal with Bridgeview end?

  • In reply to Firefan5819:

    In 20 years or so.

  • Guillermo's tweet this morning should have us all very excited, imo:

    Nikolic -"I have an offer.I think that the club will accept it and I also. Within a few days I should sign a contract with a new team"

    G also responded to a question that it is indeed the Fire he's referring to.

    He's a goal scoring machine and has me excited about the prospects of the Fire for the first time in years - pairing him with De Leeuw (seven goals and three assists in 17 games) and Accam (nine goals and five assists in 24 games)...the Fire could have a potent attack for the first time since the Blanco years.

    From Wiki -

    Years Team Apps (Gls)
    2006–2007 Barcs 19 (3)
    2007–2008 Kaposvölgye 14 (11)
    2008–2010 Kaposvár 49 (30)
    2010–2015 Videoton 149 (87)
    2015– Legia Warsaw 56 (40)
    National team
    2013– Hungary 23 (3)

  • In reply to Tweaky:

    They're going to need a midfield that can provide proper service of the ball to them, otherwise it's for naught. Accam, Polster (and Cocis and Alvarez,) need two or three high-octane partners in the lineup.

  • In reply to BrianC.:

    Of course. But ya gotta start somewhere.

  • In reply to Tweaky:

    I asked the question :)

  • Guillermo I heard Bastian is considering retiring in the summer. Is there a back up plan for him if he fails to join us. Who would you add other than Guardado?

  • In reply to Firefan5819:

    I don't believe he'll retire with money on the table. Manchester United owes him $17m for another year. He's not turning his back on that.
    I'd look to South America.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Any names that pop in your mind?

  • In reply to Firefan5819:

    Our guy Marty Tomszak has been on the Leonardo Pisculichi train for a while. He's rumored to be headed to MLS.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Is he that good?

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I thought that the Fire already mentioned someone as their backup plan if they couldn't land Schweinsteiger? Or was that for Nikolic?

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I remember NR saying in one of his first interviews that he was 'partial' (my interpretation, anyway) to South American players - I wouldn't mind. I still kinda miss Arevalo Rios, but he was out the door when Yallop came in - I think money was the issue.

  • nm, re-read the article.. it was for Nikolic

  • Arevalo Rios played very well last summer for the Uruguay national team in Copa America. I wish he had stayed as he was a wonderful to watch. Can you imagine a Polster after a year or two playing along side of Rios. That is a classic missed opportunity. Just one of so many. I am curious to see how much the league will push for a sale once the Fire's contract with Bridgeview expires.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    Rios was a nice player but you can't drop $1.5m on a holding mid that doesn't produce anything offensively. A Rios/Polster pairing would still leave a gaping hole of creativity in the middle of the field.

    The Bridgeview lease has another 20 years on it.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Do you think that Schweinsteiger can be that holding mid that produces offensively?

  • In reply to penapirata:

    I do if he is fit

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    and that is when the league will finally step in. The single entity concept makes it difficult for the team to file bankruptcy and walk away from a contract. Oops, maybe that MLS structure has some flaws after all.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Yep, point well-taken; I loved his hustle overall, but a konged crossbar was all I remembered from him offensively.

  • Guillermo,

    What about GKs? are there any rumors on the new GKs for us? We have one GK on the roster, who is a not a starting GK... There is talk about the attack, but what about between the posts?

  • In reply to edubs:

    They're looking but I haven't heard any names yet.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I feel like they might pick Clark in the draft

  • In reply to edubs:

    Larentowicz is going to come back and put his defensive capabilities on display as our starting GK.
    Oh, wait.
    Wrong coach, never mind.

  • Weird: the Fire sent me a YouTube saying that Nikolic is signed, but their app and their website are devoid of any such mention.

  • In reply to Fuegofan:

    Yeah - looks like the vid posted an hour or so ago (as of 3:30 pm EST).

    Poor bastard. Now he's stuck with AH as his boss.

  • In reply to Fuegofan:

    I did not receive any such email. The FO must not like me.

  • reporting he signed a DP contract:

  • I feel like Nikolic will bring 15-20 goals for the Fire if obviously we get that cm and fit. Without a upgrade in cm, I see him scoring 8-10 and people complaining again how the Fire are trash. This team needs a guaranteed scorer and hopefully it's nikolic. Proved himself in Poland, let's see if he will prove it here. Quality signing! (Finally we got a gold player in fifa

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