Schweinsteiger deal imminent

Current Manchester United midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger is set to join the Fire. Per multiple sources, Chicago/MLS has agreed to terms with the former German national team captain. The deal will be finalized pending Manchester United's formal release of the final year of his contract, which runs until summer of 2018. That formality is expected within days, thereby allowing Schweinsteiger to complete a move to the US, something that has been in the works for several months.

The Fire believed they were close this past January as well, but Manchester United and manager Jose Mourinho tried to maximize a return for the player when they realized that there was interest. Mourinho also tried to move Schweinsteiger last summer but found no takers at the price being asked. With options drying up, China dismissed as a destination, and the player's desire to move, the timing is right to allow an individual of his pedigree to leave on good terms rather than continue the charade of training with reserves and leaving him to toil on the fringes of game day rosters.

Adding Schweinsteiger at this point seems to be an odd match considering that Chicago filled needs in central midfield with Dax McCarty and Juninho and have Matt Polster on the roster as a potential understudy to those two, while apparently still searching for a more attack-minded central player. Regardless of the apparent logjam at the position, Schweinsteiger should still be able to operate at a high level in MLS if he is healthy. Injury concerns over the last few seasons have curtailed his effectiveness and led to his diminished role at Manchester United. He will turn 33 in August, and there should be some question about whether or not he can remain healthy enough to justify the gamble.

He's had time over the last two seasons to rest and recuperate from injures because of diminished playing time. If he's fit and ready, the Fire will have some high quality options in midfield. They'll have a player who was a starter for a World Cup winning side as recently as 2014, and finally have that marquee name that has been missing since Cuauhtemoc Blanco's departure following the 2009 season.

With the All-Star Game set for Chicago this August and the incoming arrival of Schweinsteiger, MLS appears to be making a move to get Chicago back into relevance locally and nationally. The big question is whether or not Schweinsteiger is the right fit at the moment and how will Nelson Rodriguez and Veljko Paunovic supplement the roster around a 33 year-old box to box midfielder with a short term future on the club.

Make no mistake. The Fire can't afford another year or two of floating around at the bottom of the Eastern Conference while the "process" develops. Signing Schweinsteiger is an indication that they know it.



Filed under: 2017 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


Leave a comment
  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Besides all the interesting conversation around value, formation, starting lineup, etc. I'd like to hear your thoughts on the Fire using the Trib for this announcement. Obviously you had the news out last night because you're a great reporter, but do you think using the Trib was a specific strategy from NR/the club? A sort of, hey media outlet that ignores we exist, look what we did! I think a creative social media ploy would have reached more fans, but the Trib reaches more people who don't currently follow the team. Or I'm just over thinking it.

    Value/age/too many cms aside, I'm really excited to have a legend on the team. Welcome Bastian!

  • In reply to AJties:

    The Schweiny signing ranked behind the discovery of the Brady jersey on the Trib's TV station, WGN.

  • In reply to Doug:

    Nice to hear they have their priorities straight...

  • In reply to AJties:

    Probably not a coincidence that the Trib published a negative story last week and then magically get a "scoop" this week, written by a Bears beat writer.....immediately followed by a one-page ad the following day.

    They wanted to get it out via a big media outlet for maximum impact and that seems to have worked to some effect. It's one of the most visited stories on their site this week. Maybe it will help the Trib realize that there is an audience that cares about soccer, contrary to their sports editors belieifs.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

  • Wow. Haven't had a legit attacking mid since Grazzini left, but at least we have 4 good defensive central midfielders now.

    But hey, I shouldn't complain and be least they're being aggressive and trying to get better players. It sure beats all the other many years of Hauptman ownership.

  • Big fan of the blog GR. I feel like now would be as exciting a time as ever for my first comment on this blog. I've loitered around on other blogs on this website, and have been a lurker on this particular blog since NR took the reigns of the Fire.

    Not going to give one of those (in)formal introductions :) but I'm been trying to get more and more into soccer - specifically the MLS. Obviously one of those bandwagon World Cup fans that tunes in every four years, but want to get more of an appreciation for our media-neglected Fire, and think this is the best place to learn and chime in when I can.

    One of my biggest questions/concerns about this team was how it would attract a marquee name like Bastian. There's plenty of "reputable" players that come to the MLS every year from all over the world, but it seems like the TRUE superstars around (Beckham, Drogba, Pirlo, Villa, Kaka) only come at the tail-ends of their careers. But I'm curious as to why the Fire have always sat on the sidelines for those kinds of players. Obviously from a publicity standpoint they ought to help immensely, and hopefully sell seats. Looking at the top-5 in terms of attendance last season (Seattle, Orlando, NYC, Toronto, LA Galaxy), all of those teams routinely attract the biggest of names every season, and whether a player comes over or not, they are always connected to them, so it's nice the Fire finally land a household name for once (even if it's on an alleged one year deal).

    Why haven't the Fire been a target destination for big names? They've been connected to US National team players (Jones, Bedoya, Guzan, etc.) but I don't recall them ever being connected to any of the aforementioned European names above ^. It obviously takes two to tango, and there are plenty of drawbacks to wanting to come here (cold weather, inconvenient location, bad ownership, consistent losing, poor attendance, etc.) but it shouldn't be a struggle for the Fire to compete with other teams for those names in theory, right?

    I'm not trying to make it seem like the only thing that matters is bringing in huge names, but I've been curious about this for some time. And obviously with the MLS having a salary cap, it never made sense to me how teams like the Galaxy, Toronto, Seattle, etc. somehow always were capable of bringing big names even when they already had a lot of money allocated towards their current rosters, but teams like the Fire never were.

  • In reply to Average Samaritan:

    There's a lot in that question and the really simple reason that they haven't drawn a big name like that in the past is that you have to be willing to spend big to attract one of those types. That hasn't necessarily been the case with the Fire. They've spent some money on middling level DPs and got less than middling returns as a result.

  • In reply to Average Samaritan:

    Welcome to the party and btw, nifty moniker! GR/F.C. is the guy/blog you wanna see!
    Exceeding glad over the Schweinsteiger signing - had all but forgotten about it. Now is as good a time as ever for it to happen, since we have a bye week, the sooner the better. A good shot in the arm. Speaking of which, always thought NR had something else up his sleeve besides his armpit!
    'Course now, someone's gone or knocked down a peg - we're thin on the bench but I'd hate to see Matt stuck there once he's healthy. If they move him, that would make Accam the last holdover from the last regime (fancy word for 'dud'- heh heh heh - nevermind...), would it not?

  • In reply to Average Samaritan:

    Pretty much what Guillermo said. But LA and NY are always naturally going to get more international attention. Then when you're simply a bad team, have been for years, and have an owner/organization consistently toward the bottom of the "ambition" rankings, you can see why some of the top int'l names don't have any interest in coming here. That said, to be fair, they were one of the final 2 in on Drogba.

    But mostly it's been a pretty dire and dour decade ever since the tight-fisted Hauptman took over.

  • In reply to Tweaky:

    Also Bedoya thought he was coming here... He would have played here but there was some trading that went on there. Also Drogba wanted to be in a french speaking area. thats why he went to Montreal. Jones was a "Coin flip"... whatever BullS... that was. So there have been names that were ready and willing to come to Chicago, but we passed on for whatever reason.

  • In reply to edubs:

    Seemed he was more focused and wondering about the int'l names and had pointed out the US player interest already. But you're right as I agree.

  • Hate to be the nervous Nellie but i fear this signing makes Polster trade bait and i would be pissed if he is traded. I expect Seattle to steal him any day now. Good American players are essential for any long term development and Polster is a good MLS player and just beginning his development. That said, happy to have more real quality on the pitch. BS may have a lot left in the tank, 33 not being as old as it once was in soccer terms.

  • In reply to Celt:

    Trading Polster now would be like selling your seed stock so you can enjoy a mature plant near the flowering stage.

    It would be the (new) epitome of stupid roster moves (except to the recipient team, of course)

    That said, I'm not putting past this management team to do this, though I do wish to be surprised and see them allow MP to grow under the Dax/Junino/Bastion tutelage- we'd have a ready-made all-star by the time those three retire.

  • In reply to BrianC.:

    Love the gardening analogy, BTW.

  • Besides seeing this signing as a PR move that will sell shirts I just don't get this signing. Can he play right back?

  • In reply to penapirata:

    Exactly my first thought. All this quality in the midfield and they've still got manbun out there.

  • In reply to Bumsteer:

    But....what about this:

    Niko / MDL
    Accam / Bast / Juninho / AA
    Vincent / JC (or Meira) / Kap

    Nary a manbun in sight.

  • In reply to Shinny:

    Do you trust Accam to get back and play effective defense?

    I've been thinking about it for a while now and 3 in the back is the only way you get him on the field along with Dax and Juninho without having to sacrifice MDL and AA.

    Still this signing makes no sense. Too bad we couldn't go after a younger South American #10 with the money they are paying him.

  • In reply to penapirata:

    I agree...for me, it comes down to getting the best players on the field and getting Harrington off. I think 3 at the back is the only way to do that unless they do shift Polster to RB.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Shinny:

    Polster will be our new RB in a week or two and I'm totally fine with that. He's too talented to come off of the bench, played in the back in college and would be beyond stupid to trade/sell.

    I don't think our back line is talented enough to play with 3. I'd like to see Vincent, Campbell, Kap and Polster out there with Meria as the first off of the bench when a defensive sub is needed or to fill in for injury/suspension. That said we should sign another RB to back up Polster as Harrington should never make the gameday 18.

  • In reply to Shinny:

    I agree and anyone who knows this team and is somewhat familiar with formations has been saying the same thing. The way I see it is Accam and Alvarez are played as Wingbacks and their Subs are Vincent and Polster. Accam and Alvarez are more offensive and Vincent and Polster defensive. 3 CB's Meira Campbell and Kappelhoff. 3 MF Juninho, Schweinsteiger and Dax. Niko and MDL up top and Bava of course as our starting GK. They will likely need some time getting used to the formation but in the long run, this puts our best players on the pitch and it removes all the suck. A couple average players in that lineup but nobody sucks.

  • In reply to penapirata:

    Perhaps not on a regular basis, but I do remember a couple of instances last season where Accam came out of nowhere to block a 1-on-1 shot. Every once in a while his speed comes in handy on the back end, too.

  • Who moves to clear an international roster spot?

  • In reply to DerSting:

    I think Goosens' injury cleared an Intl spot.

  • In reply to Shinny:


  • I think a world caliber 8 could play as an effective 10 [he says hopefully]

  • Not Fire related. But, I wonder whatever happened with this bizarre lawsuit.

  • Happy to have BS on the Fire. Now where will he play. I will be gutted if Matt Polster is traded. Long term, Matt is the future of our midfield.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    The Fire have often blessed us with BS...

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to jrpaine:

    And with that you've won the comment section. Couldn't agree more lol.

  • In reply to jrpaine:

    Perhaps Bastian will prove to be BS' {GOOD} twin!

  • When Nelson was a child, he wanted a sandwich for lunch. His mother told him they only had bread, but no meat. She gave him 5$ to go to the store and buy the best lunch meat that was available. He came home with 5 loaves of bread.

    This signing is the arrogance of NR and ego of VP to say they signed and coached the great Basti. Problem is, WE ALREADY have very capable players for that niche!

    Basti brings professionalism and locker room command. But is he 90 fit to play now? At this price he better be, thats a lot of tickets and replica jerseys to cover that cost for a player we really dont need.

    Dammit NR we need a CAM playmaker, not another DM! Whats the plan, playing a 3-6-0?

  • In reply to Fireman1:

    Sorry meant 3-6-1. This signing has gotten me a little fired up

  • In reply to Fireman1:

    wouldn't bet the first time Schweinsteiger played in a formation like that. Germany basically played a 4-6-0 in a number of games during the 2014 world cup. It should feel natural for him. Unfortunately that worked for Germany because everyone on that team was incredibly fit.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Fireman1:

    I must have missed something, I always thought we played a 3-6-0,
    it seems that someone is always missing from the back line when our opponents score against us.

  • I have to agree with the commentator on Yahoo sports who said that this is a backwards move by MLS.

    It's almost like AH is trying to finally live down his promise to spend Keane-like money. Why the stars aligned this time, I'm not sure, but this signing is the kind that was being made back when the claim about Keane-like money went public - an MLS 2.0-type of signing, not an Ignacio Piatti, Giovinco, or Giovani dos Santos - a skill player at the peak of his career that solves a vital problem on the field.

    Not that Schweini is not skilled, but he's not at his peak and his position is not a problem. As GR asked, where's our number 10? RB and GK should not be near this discussion IMO because that's not where you want to be putting DP money.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    I found the last sentence in this article interesting, the article says the same thing:

    "The question is clear: What are the Fire doing?"

  • Let's take a moment and realize we went from Cocis, Polster, Goosens, Thiam to McCarty, Juninho, Polster, and BS. That is a hell of a switch and now makes us one of the best central midfields in the league. This team has a lot of money in it right now and expectations need to be sky high right now. This is a win right now team. We have seen what Pauno can do with a team that is not good. He didn't do anything with them last year. He didn't have a single player improve under him last season and was given a pass for some reason. This season, IMO, he needs to get this team to north of 50 points and at the very least into the second round of the playoffs. Anything less has to be considered a wasted season.

    On a different note, BS is not an attacking midfielder. He never played that at either club he was at before coming here. Juninho, Dax, and BS all play a very similar role, IMO. I'm excited that he is here but I'm cautious because I don't think Pauno knows what he is doing and will piss this roster away. We have a DP and TAM strikers, DP winger, fantastic central midfield, decent enough defenders, and a terrible keeper. Hopefully this team lives up to the hype now.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    What are your criteria for defining improvement over the course of a year?

    Campbell did very well as a rookie and was in early conversations for rookie of the year; Alvarez had a career-best season. Statistically Meira was much better in the second half of the year than the first when he was abysmal. Vincent also transitioned into a professional role.

    I'm not defending Pauno, but without some kind of basis for comparison it's an empty statement.

    I think NR has just handed Pauno a pink slip. He hasn't given him a quality right back, no creative midfielder, a questionable 'keeper, and little wing depth. Oh, and here's this redundant $4.5 mill player who WON A WORLD CUP (ie that's much harder than winning MLS Cup so the clock is ticking) who is coming from another country and who the other players don't know from Adam, setting up potential leadership and field time conflicts with the other key new veterans in the team who happen to play the same position while stifling young talent.

    I don't know what your workplace is like, but I'm not sure I'd want to be in that one.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    And Bava was certainly that last Saturday.

  • Who wants to bet that BS will get "ill" before his first game and will be out for 2 weeks and then when he is clear for his second game, something dumb would happen like him breaking his leg and out for 5 months.

  • Has BS seen our state of the art training facilities yet?

  • fb_avatar

    penapirta my thoughts exactly. After training at Carrington it will be like training in a parking lot. OH wait, we do train in a parking lot. Seeing what Atlanta, Minnesota, and Philly are doing I hope we can do something. But not sure if the village or AH would pay for it.
    Really happy about the signing though. Except I probably won't have the two empty seats next to now.

  • God has his Ten Commandments, Wilson has his Fourteen Points, the Fire have Schweinsteiger. We shall see.

  • fb_avatar

    Desevio Payne apparently will be a free agent this summer. Young American RB with Eredivisie experience and high upside, Groningen connections, played for US against Pauno's U-20 Serbia side... almost makes too much sense.

  • When does Basti arrive in Bridgeview?

  • In reply to Krasov:

    Plan is for presentation on Wednesday. If visa is approved he'll be available for Montreal game.

  • Reminds me of Arne Friedrich, who I always wished we could clone. He did great things for our back line in the all too brief time he had here.

    Lets hope Schweinsteiger lasts a little longer and is at least as good. I want to see all this quality midfield talent have some beneficial developmental impact on our young players.

  • Whenever I hear someone make the argument that money would be better spent somewhere else, I ask who? Yes we need a playmaker, yes we need a Right Back more than a CDM but who is available that plays these positions and is on the same level of Schweinsteiger? Nelson signed the best players available, he took the safe route and signed 3 players that are unquestionably good and 1 player that is likely a quality MLS forward. I'll take that over every offseason we've had in the Hauptman era. Trying to stretch dollars, trying to find undervalued players who were overlooked hasn't worked for the Fire. This is the first year in several years that most of our starters are good. If we switch to a 3-5-2 or a 3-6-1 we would have a starting 11 without any bad players. Harrington is the only player that sucks.

    Also Mourinho plays favorites and chases off the guys he doesn't like. The blatant disrespect that Mourinho had shown Schweinsteiger tells me that the decision to move Basti was at least somewhat personal.

Leave a comment