Fire add right back Franco via draft

The Fire went for a position of need in the annual MLS Superdraft and selected the best right back available with the 13th pick overall. UC-Irvine defender Marco Franco, who played his first three years in school at right back before moving to the middle in his senior year describes himself as an “attack minded right back who likes to get forward.”

Franco told reporters via conference call this afternoon that his initial meeting with Frank Yallop and Fire brass went well in Florida and he was looking forward to playing in Chicago. “I met with them (coaches) on Monday…and I thought it went well,” said Franco. “We talked a little bit about my play at the Combine and they said I did well. I loved what they had to say about me and what they had to say about Chicago and the organization”.

Yallop needed to add depth at both fullback spots  and alluded to a back-up plan for Lovel Palmer on the right side if Steven Kinney failed to get past injury issues. It appears Franco is that back-up plan for now but he feels he can contribute more than just depth. “I think the goal is definitely to earn a spot on the team and get some playing time. I definitely think I can come in and challenge for a starting spot. I just want to come in and work hard and show the coaches what I have and help the team,” said Franco.

“I wanted to make sure we got the best available at that spot and I thought Marco had a good four seasons at Irvine and had a good combine,” said Yallop of this year’s first selection. “He’s got the body type (for MLS) and as a 22 year old he’s had four years of college and done well. We had a good chat with him and he was one of the guys that we interviewed before the draft. I thought his demeanor was strong. He was a happy, go lucky kid but he was driven. That’s what we want. A guy that doesn’t want to sit still. He’s an attacking right fullback”.

Fire brass interviewed Franco on Monday and left the meeting with a good first impression that led to his selection today. “The things he talked about being a pro were that he wants to learn and he wants to get better,” explained Yallop. “He didn’t mention Europe. We’ve had interviews with some of these kids and it’s all about wanting to go to Europe. This kid’s all about wanting to get better and make sure (he’s) got his game improved and go to a place that will improve (him) as a player”.

On the pitch, Yallop echoed what many believe to be Franco’s strong points as a player. “He’s an attacking right fullback who loves to get forward. He’s really clean on the ball. He’s got good clean feet and hits a good long ball. He loves to get forward and has the pace and power and ability to defend well. He’s got all the attributes but the big thing you never know is can he get the mental part of the game. Can he handle pressure? Can he step up to the professional level. I see a lot of good college kids who are absolutely fantastic in college but as soon as they get into the pro game they don’t quite get it. It’s mind boggling really,” said Yallp offering some insight into what coaches and technical directors look for during potential player interviews.

“When we watched him play in the combine and I saw him play at Irvine he never seemed phased. He had a strong character and he didn’t seem nervous. That’s always good so when you step onto the pro side you’re not phased or not as nervous as you would be if you’re character wasn’t right. I’m hoping I’m right with this but I think we’ve got a pretty good one and hopefully it works out for us and the Fire”.

Franco will compete for a spot and Yallop will continue to look at different players going into training camp although there aren’t many openings to fill. “I’d love to have a player at every position to jump in whenever we needed but Lovel Palmer can play right back or left back. Steven Kinney is coming into camp and we have Hunter Jumper who’s played left back and center back. I would say left back area is a little bit a position of need but I think there’s enough people in our squad (to cover). We’ll be bringing in some guys in preseason to have a look,” he said.

“We only have a couple of smaller spots to fill and come March 9 we’ll be ready to get going fully loaded”.

The third and fourth rounds are more of a guessing game since there are players available who haven’t been as heralded as the players chosen in the first two rounds. The Fire did not have a second round selection but will hold picks 61, 65, and 75 in next Tuesday’s third and fourth round draft continuation.


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  • I'm imagining Franco and his supposed speed, quickness and solid technical ability combining with Nyarko nicely. They could create a dangerous right side of the field for the Fire.

    Very glad they added some depth at RB. Wonder if he could cover LB in a pinch...we need help there too.

    Now just for an amazing CAM.............................pleaaaaaaaaaaassssssseeeeeeeeee!

  • I can understand why Yallop might want someone focused on improving as a player and committed to his team and MLS, but I really don't see the problem with these kids saying they want to one day play in Europe. If they didn't want to play in Europe at some point in their career I'd say they lacked ambition. Maybe Yallop just enjoyed the fresh response as opposed to what he usually hears, and that's why he was pleased.

  • Marco Pappa + Guillermo Franco = Marco Franco?

  • No coach wants their team to be treated as a stepping stone. A professional (at anything) has his eyes set firmly on the task at hand, and for the players at the Combine, that's getting onto a team in MLS. Sure, most of them would love to play in Europe, preferably at a Champions League club, but their skill level and opportunities have dictated that they need to prove themselves in MLS. Do that and who knows. But they have to focus on getting better as a player and the opportunities will take care of themselves. That understanding takes maturity, and that's likely one of the things Yallop likes about Franco.

  • In reply to Fuegofan:

    Well said.

  • I kind of take away from Yallop that he sees Franco has a back up plan to Kinney. After watching highlights and reading scounting reports, I feel like it would be nice to give the kid a shot at playing time if Palmer wasnt hacking it or needed some time off.

  • In reply to KChance:

    You never know. Paolo was supposed to the #3 goal keeper.
    I would not mind being pleasantly surprised at all. The more video I see of him, and not just game footage, the more I feel like he could turn into a truly solid player. It's nice to have prospects that create this kind of excitement.

  • Frank said something about a couple of minor pieces and we are set to go. Does this mean our strike force is set and no reinforcements are coming?

  • In reply to Celt:

    Unless some sort of trade/transfer happens I think the forwards are set. I think he's looking to strengthen midfield and depth.

    The next few months will be a big test for JLA.

  • GR -- I deliberately ignore the nuts and bolts of salary cap calculations so I am totally flummoxed by the ability ofteams like Toronto and Vancouver to go out and buy big name foreign talent. Vancouver just picked up two Argentines and obviously Toronto reeled in Bradley and Defoe. So is this just an issue of Hauptman's pocketbook? I am happy about the acquisition of Yallop and of his efforts to clean house but beyond that I see nothing happening that will move the Fire into the upper tier of teams nor will improve the level of play. Relying on McGee to have another record year is overly optimistic and given that there iis a large hole in the supply of goals. In watching the off-season moves I couldn't help thinking of comparisons with the Cubs. Please tell me why I should be optimistic in the current roster environment.

  • In reply to shortpasses:

    I think they've got a decent squad. Not a cup contender but good enough to compete. They had the best record in the league form June to the end of the season and I don't think that was all circumstance. Magee likely won't reproduce what he did last year but they should be entertaining to watch. It's not a roster devoid of talent.
    The lack of big foreign talent is two-fold. One- Hauptman's not looking to spend the type of money TFC just plunked down and the last regime made a lot of bad decisions on the foreign players they did bring in. Yallop and Bliss will make better decisions but it's yet to be seen what sort of budget a parameters they have. I don't think you'll see a big name until July or possibly even next year when Yallop has had a chance to clear some cap space.

    That being said, it's not all gloom and doom. It's not a terrible team.

  • Guillermo - another thoughtful analysis.

    Re: playing in Europe ... every professional player wants to play where they earn the most $$, play with the best and are challanged by the best ... but for these college kids/club players to talk about Europe while trying to break into MLS is at best naive - at worst professionally insulting to their prospective MLS employers.

    Finally, all you whiners complaining about the FO not spending $$$$$$ - do your homework and look at the last several foriegn attacking DPs the Fire acquired - any multi-year AllStars in that group?? Going slow at this point in the PreSeason is the wise, professional course by the coaching staff. And where should we look for these awesome players at this point in the International Calendar?? Reality isn't FIFA 14 nor Championship Manager. The only reason MB was available this PreSeason and CD was available last Season was World Cup 2014 - playing time, playing time, playing time - and a big paycheck.

  • In reply to southsidefutbol:

    Thanks southside.......I think you have to trust that Yallop/Bliss will do a better job finding DP's than the previous regime did. It's always tough to cite patience but it will take some in this case.

  • Marco Pappa says he's signed a two year deal with MLS and he'd prefer to play in Chicago.......

  • I would welcome Pappa back in a heartbeat. The guy can score. Where would you play him? He does not like the middle, but I think he can play anywhere.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    He doesn't have the vision or defensive desire that they'd need to play in the middle. He's an outside player and both Nyarko and Duka take up a good chunk of cap space playing out there.
    They would likely need to move one of those guys (or Rolfe) to fit him in and keep options open for a central midfielder. He can definitely help someone but I don't see him fitting in here right now.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I think Dilly would do well in the middle. I think he should get a shot at it atleast. He does well out side but he looks like he has the characteristics to do well in the middle. I would love to see Pappa back at the Fire. I think he would fit in well with this team right now.

  • If it means having to torpedo Nyarko or Rolfe, forget it. I think people have short memories sometimes. As great as Pappa could be, he could also be anonymous as well. He flamed out rather spectacularly in Holland, so I'm not convinced he's all of a sudden become more consistent.

  • Between Rolfe and Pappa, I'd prefer Pappa, but overall, I doubt
    that he would add that much to the team and I don't see the club making extra efforts to sign him, doubt if either one would be a starter on a consistant basis. Nyarko and Duka make the team more dynamic and fluid, real need is a CAM and another striker.
    The guy on the bubble is JLA and if he doesn't pan out by the end of June, Adios. Expect maybe several signings in July, defense right now is pretty well set, have confidence that Yallop knows how to put together a contending team. No use to make a "big" signing
    now to please fans, rather wait to find appropriate players who fit in
    to produce a winning team.

  • Read in the Tribune that Clint Mathis will be joining the club as a coach. After reviewing the roster there appears to be only one opening left on the squad unless someone is cut. With the addition
    of Franco only one open spot.

  • Draft results:
    #61 Zach Bolden wide-mid from Denver U 17 Goals, 22 assists
    in 66 game career.
    #65 Kadeem Dacres mid from U of Maryland-Baltimore, 7 goals
    and 4 assists in 17 games, apparently has national team experience with Jamaica. Rated 71 in top 100 prospects.
    #75 Bryan Cieslulka from Maquette U. 18 goals 16 assists for career, from Naperville, rated 54 out of top 100 prospects.

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