Fire's offseason is all about options

Frank Yallop conducted end of season exit interviews with players last week before departing for a ten day scouting trip. According to Yallop, players were to be advised of the club’s intentions for 2015 as it pertains to each individual during those conversations.

Most clubs probably won’t announce which contract options have been picked up or declined until after MLS Cup concludes on December 7 and the Re-Entry Draft list is publicized. Last year, the Fire made those announcements on December 9 and they aren’t likely to officially release a full list at least until Yallop returns from his scouting mission although rumors are already circulating. Until then we can take a look at where each player on the roster stands in terms of contractual status for next season.

Alex – His option was picked up after last season and judging by Yallop’s tendency to get Alex into the line up at either left back or left midfield during the second half of the season it seemed that the technical staff believed he had some value. There’s no official word yet but the Fire appear set to decline the option this time around however.

Quincy Amarikwa – Another player whose option was renewed after last season. The Fire got much more than anyone expected out of Amarikwa this season. His work rate, production, and bargain rate seem to make it certain that Chicago is in store for another season of “Quincy Time”, although if reinforcements are brought in at forward he’ll see most of his minutes coming off the bench in 2015.

Juan Luis Anangono – Has one more season left on his current contract (with an option for ’16) so the Fire will need to either extend the loan deal with LDU Quito, find another destination for him, or come to an agreement to cut bait altogether. His Designated Player tag will be a problem if he remains on the active roster.

Greg Cochrane – Coming into the third year of his rookie MLS contract. Price tag and value lead to a reasonable assumption that he’ll be back but there’s no guarantee there as Alex was given time ahead of him when Segares was unavailable late in the season.

Razvan Cocis – Added during the July transfer window this summer. Cocis is under contract for 2015 and is expected to return next season.

Robert Earnshaw – Signed a short term deal with an option for 2015 this past summer when the Fire failed to land Silvio Romero and desperately needed help at forward. Delivered with 3 goals in 5 appearances but injury history should be a major concern. His 2014 guaranteed compensation at $206,250.00 is a bit steep for a player who likely won’t be a starter next season if Yallop and Bliss are able to upgrade the forward position. May be one of those players on the bubble, that Yallop mentioned in his last press conference.

Matt Fondy – After being waived by Chivas USA in June, the Fire signed him in early July to provide some cover at the forward position. Proved to be what most thought he was. Short term, non guaranteed, roster fodder.

Marco Franco – After spending the second half of the season on loan with USLPro OC Blues FC and Indy Eleven, expect the rookie to be back in camp for a chance at making the roster although nothing is guaranteed.

Patrick Ianni – Signed his current deal in December of 2012 while in Seattle. The Fire were hopeful that they could move Ianni this past summer after they acquired him along with Jhon Kennedy Hurtado in January but that never materialized. They would still like to move him and his $150,000.00 guaranteed number and he will likely be left unprotected or have his option declined.

Sean Johnson – The club held an option for him last season and quietly signed him to a new deal last winter after exercising the clause although it wasn’t publicized. Johnson is currently training at Hull City and it’s just a matter of time before he has a solid offer to play somewhere in Europe. If it’s this window, the summer, or next season, Yallop will need to begin planning for the eventuality of Johnson’s departure. The good thing is that he’s under contract so any move away from MLS would earn the Fire a transfer fee and valuable allocation.

Benji Joya – The Fire landed Joya via weighted lottery last February and the agreement included an option to buy clause from his Liga MX side Santos Laguna. It was pretty evident by his placement on the bench and outside of the 18 that Joya wasn’t in Yallop’s long term plan. An injury sidelined him  for a portion of the season although he continued to play for the US U-23’s. Don’t expect Joya to return for 2015. The option clause won’t be exercised.

Hunter Jumper – Medical issues shortened his season and possibly his career. Jumper won’t be back in 2015.

Alec Kann – Loaned out to USLPro’s Charlotte Eagles in his first season with the Fire. Probably impressed enough to be invited back to camp and challenge Reynish for the back up spot on the first team next year.

Steven Kinney – Had his option picked up last season but after yet another injury plagued season this could be the end for Kinney.

Jeff Larentowicz – His current multi-year contract was signed in January of 2012 while with Colorado. Yallop has already indicated that he wants Larentowicz back and he will be his captain next season while likely remaining at center back. The Fire may look to renegotiate his deal at a lower rate however.

Mike Magee – His situation puts the Fire in a difficult spot. His new price tag assumes a good chunk of the current budget/cap and his injury could keep him out of action until May. Magee would still be a marketable commodity within the league if healthy but if the Fire considered dealing him the circumstances make it almost impossible to do so now.

Patrick Nyarko – His contract included an option for 2015 but the sides were working on a renegotiated deal to bring him back before the injury occurred that takes him out of action for the next 6-8 months. The Fire would like to bring him back for less than the $284,500.00 guaranteed amount of this past season.

Sanna Nyassi – Is under contract through 2015. A bit expensive at $154,625.00 considering his injury history so his return isn’t a sure thing.

Lovel Palmer – The Fire held an option on Palmer for 2015 and worked with the player on a new deal that was announced last week. The popular right back was awarded Section 8 Chicago’s Supporter’s Player of the Year honor and looks to be around for the next several seasons.

Victor Pineda – His initial Homegrown contract has expired and the Fire will need to make a decision on Pineda. He will now count against the senior roster and cap numbers so the decision is more complicated than it was last year when the club simply picked up his option. After a successful loan spell at Indy Eleven, Pineda may have options of his own.

Kyle Reynish – Signed with the Fire last January after winning the NASL’s Golden Glove award for the league’s top goalkeeper. If Johnson moves abroad, the Fire may not be sold on Reynish assuming the starting spot. If Johnson returns, he still may be challenged by Kann for the top back up role.

Chris Ritter – Signed a homegrown contract before last season. Will return for 2015.

Gonzalo Segares – The Fire declined his option after the 2012 season and the parties agreed to a new deal in December of 2012 after he was left unprotected in that season’s Re-Entry Draft. That scenario will play out again as his $173,3330.00 guaranteed price tag may be too high for a player that appears to be on the downside. Yallop will be looking to upgrade the back line and centerback is probably not the only position he’s looking for.

Harry Shipp – Working on his rookie/Homegrown contract and appears to be a fixture for the foreseeable future.

Florent Sinama-Pongolle – Signed to a short term inexpensive deal to close the season with an option for two additional years. Sinama-Pongolle scored in the last match of the season but probably didn’t impress enough to justify the option and the international roster spot.

Bakary Soumare – His contact option for 2015 is astronomical in terms of MLS dollars so it’s likely that the Fire aren’t looking to bring back Soumare at that rate.

Grant Ward – The Fire extended his loan deal through end of 2014 and would like to keep him in Chicago longer. Yallop indicated that discussions will take place with Tottenham to keep Ward for a longer spell. At what price is the question.

Matt Watson – Initial MLS contract was signed with Vancouver before the 2012 season. Proved to be a valuable utility player at an albeit somewhat high rate of $82,665.00 for a reserve. Chances are Yallop wants him back next season.

The date and time for this year’s first phase of the Re-Entry Draft has yet to be announced although the Expansion Draft involving New York City FC and Orlando City has been set for December 10. The Dispersal Draft for Chivas USA’s players is likely to happen in early December as well. Each team can protect eleven players in the Expansion Draft but can only loose a maximum of two.

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement may eventually change some of the parameters and budgets that each club has to work with but without knowing what those changes will be, clubs will continue to add and subtract from their rosters under the current rule set. Regardless of how much the budget/cap increases or changes this offseason it would appear that the Fire have money and room in which to make much needed changes to the roster. Unlike last season, where 21 of 30 players were under contract for 2014 after options were picked up, Yallop will potentially have half of those roster spots open coming into the next window. Couple that with the budget space that wasn’t available last winter due to previous agreements, there won’t be anyone else to blame if considerable upgrades aren’t made and the Fire don’t return to contention in 2015.

The table is set for a true rebuilding process to be completed with enough budget space available to make significant improvements. This off season is just starting to get interesting.

Filed under: 2014 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • What a depressing read. The only good thing is that lots of players who haven't performed to their potential (I'm being gentle here) may be moving on.

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    This is a great read Guillermo. Personally, I look forward to seeing some of these moves as well as getting Victor back after a pretty productive time at Indy this year on loan. Should be an interesting next few months

  • In reply to Steve Sanders:

    Thanks Steve.

  • Yallop has no excuse this coming season. He will have the option of bringing in his players. This team has only 4 players that should be starting the first game of next season. Shipp, big red, johnson, and Palmer. If Quincey is our leading man going into day 1, Yallop should be fired on the spot. Alex should not be wearing a fire jersey anymore. We need a cb, lb, 2 cm's, 2 wide players and a striker this off season. Harry Shipp should be playing in an attacking role behind the striker. I don't trust Yallop to get this right. June 1 is his deadline day.

  • Wow. Earnshaw is not cheap. I do like him, though. He has a calm, collected cool that seems so lacking with our strikers.

    And yes, there are no excuses this year. 2015 is the make-or-break for the regime.

  • Great article, good to know what they are thinking on some of these guys and what their contract situations are. The season really sucked, but at least we should have a fun offseason! :)

  • behold the MLS offseason calendar.......

    TBD - MLS Dispersal Draft for Chivas USA

    December 7, 2014 - MLS Cup Final

    December 8, 2014 – Half-day Trade Window: Open 9 am ET - 1 pm ET. Teams may trade during that window or may re-sign their own players. Blackout period starts at 1 pm ET, runs through the MLS Expansion Draft.

    December 10, 2014 - MLS Expansion Draft

    December 10, 2014 - Trade Window opens at the end of Expansion Draft; closes on December 11, 2014, at 5 pm ET

    December 10, 2014 – MLS Waiver Draft

    December 12, 2014 - MLS Re-entry Draft, Phase One

    December 12, 2014 – Trade Window opens at the end of Re-entry Draft Phase One; closes on December 17, 2014, at 11 am ET

    December 18, 2014 - MLS Re-entry Draft, Phase Two

    December 18, 2014 – Trade Window opens at the end of Re-entry Draft Phase Two

    January 2-5, 2015 - MLS Caribbean Combine

    January 9-13, 2015 - MLS Combine

    January 15, 2015 - MLS SuperDraft

  • Hypothetically, if the 2015 season starts out like the last, what are the chances that Yallop is fired by let's say August?

  • In reply to penapirata:

    I think Hauptman will give him plenty of time to work on the rebuild. I don't see another change after 1-1/2 seasons unless there are some blunders of historical proportions.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    "blunders of historical proportions" what do you call whats happened in the past year?

  • In reply to kaca:

    I agree. Last year was painful and not necessary. None of the trades made prior to or during the season improved the team. The MLS funny money could have been achieved this off season through cuts or renegotiation. The saddest thing is that everyone thinks Lovel Palmer was a decent player yet I never saw him make a cross worth making a run toward and saw him get burned on the wing so many times it made me cringe. He is at best a good guy to have on the bench. Until the ownership changes, the Fire will be mediocre at best.

  • In reply to kaca:

    Mediocrity of historical proportions?

    But seriously, you can't change your leadership every 18 months and expect that a new coach will magically make things better half way through a season. A change before next season is over, assuming they get off to an awful start, would just smack of more desperation.

    Let's see what they come up with this offseason and judge it then.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I seem to recall a wise man (let's call him Guillermo) commenting on the value of continuity of coaches during a certain period in Chivas RIP's history.

    He *may* have mentioned something on that topic when questions regarding Klopas during the beginning of 2013 as well, IIRC.

  • Guys I own a moderate size business. Every position has to perform to a certain level or the team or corporation fails. Recently one of my employees retired. It too me 2 years and 5 different employees to get the right person. In yallops case he has turned out to be a bad coach in the mls of today.. If anyone expects that a miracle will happen and a different style coach appears in yallops body then let everyone know. Even if yallop comes across with new players he will prove to be out of his league. We are in for at least another 1/2 year of a mistake.

  • In reply to brokerjohn:

    you very well may be right. i'm really looking forward to this offseason though, will enjoy the high drama of it and see what happens next year. i'm not 100% convinced - yet - that yallop is terrible, though he made some pretty awful moves last year. this is his big chance though...he better get it right this offseason as there will be no more placing the blame on the last regime. if his moves are anything like last year's moves, the heat on hauptman and co. is going to be extreme.

  • In reply to Tweaky:

    You said it well. I'm also not 100% convinced yet, but this is the a big year to make-or-break.

    I actually think he'll get some good acquisitions this off-season. The thing that I'm very uncertain of is gameday strategy. I was never completely certain what the strategy/tactcis were on a given day, and that may have been due to player performance or lack thereof. It often seemed like one, big jumbled mess moving the ball around.

  • In reply to brokerjohn:

    Brokerjohn --Totally agree regarding Yallop. His "experience" has not included any growth. MLS is not the same as it was during his early years. Despite that, I don't see AH dumping him before the end of 2015.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Wouldn't mind seeing them pick up Dan Kennedy. The article fails to mention seattle gets first pick, regardless of the outcome, like an English lord using "Prima Noctum" in Scotland.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    i admit i'm biased, but i'm not impressed about the way the chivas dispersal draft is being conducted (1 envelope for playoff teams and 2 for non-playoff and expansion teams). i would have liked to see a bit more sophistication in the draw...where the worst team has the best chance at the top pick and the best team has the worst chance. oh well...

  • In reply to Tweaky:

    Maybe, but outside of Kennedy and Torres is there anyone on that roster you really want?

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Hurtado? ;)

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    in all seriousness, i don't know much about their roster. but there has to be some useable parts, even if for depth. i think with all the turnover, the Fire are really going to have to use as many routes to add good players as is possible.

  • Sorry to see Gonzo go.. I think he's always given you everything he has. He's been good going forward and while maybe getting beat a bit more down the sideline, he's been good at keeping them outside. Soumare has been slow to support when Gonzo gets beat which made matters worse, but I think he's still got time with better CBs.

  • Guys could someone please tell me why we traded Rolfe? What we got for Rolfe and would that person or move been better than one of the most valuable players on DC United team.
    I am not gripping I am just trying to grade.the intellect of the management that controls the future of the fire. This team is reminding me a bit of the Cubs.

  • In reply to brokerjohn:

    This will refresh your memory:

    They got allocation $ and cleared his salary off the books. To be fair, he really wasn't producing for the Fire, and hadn't been for awhile. As the post above mentions, we were looking at Shipp and Joya being able to replace Rolfe for far cheaper and freed up some salary cap and added allocation to add resources. I'm unclear how the allocation helps moving forward, if at all, but I really can't blame the front office for making the move since Rolfe was overpaid and underperforming for quite a while with the Fire.

  • In reply to Tweaky:

    You have to question why a player (Rolfe) was under performing with the Fire but magically shines for DC United. This same comment can be made about numerous other players. I think it is clear that the Fire have had a series of coaches that continue to misuse players and when moved those players are allowed to play or develop to their full potential. It's not rocket science but it is not 4th grade math either. The Fire needs a revamped management structure, a first class training ground, a better marketing campaign, and players that are allowed to play to their strengths, not to fill holes in the roster.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    I think it boils down to: average players excel when they are on good teams (with good players) and under-perform when they are on mediocre/bad teams with mediocre/bad players. Gargan, Pappa, Husidic, Rolfe, um, Sherjill...the list goes on.

    I look at teams that bring in impact players- it might be someone that registers few goals or assists, but their presence in the locker room, the training field and the playing field raises the bar for everyone.

    I miss Arne Friedrich.

  • In reply to BrianC.:

    Marco Pappa was excellent for the Fire. He was not an "average player," and he did not underperform or play any worse than he currently does for Seattle.

    Also, both Pappa and Husidic played on some pretty good Fire teams.

  • In reply to ChicaGOLAZO:

    I would agree with you on Pappa.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Pappa scored 36 goals in 112 matches for the Fire and has scored 6 in 29 for Seattle. So, he does not perform any worse for Seattle than he did for the Fire. But there is nothing about his play I would term "excellent."

  • In reply to StaryByk3:

    Okay.....I'll give on the "excellent" but he was good enough to get them a seven figure transfer fee. ;)

  • In reply to StaryByk3:

    Pappa was great for us. He was good on the ball and looked to go at defenders with speed. The only player on the current roster that likes to do that is Nyarko, and he can't get/stay healthy. Pappa wanted the ball at all times when he was playing. The only player on the team that always wants the ball is Shipp. Everyone else would be happy if they went the whole match without touching it one time. Its embarrassing how scared all the players are when they get the ball.

  • In reply to StaryByk3:

    OK, so Heerenveen were dumb enough to overpay for Pappa. That actually was the best part of his tenure here. ;-)

  • Guys for some reason the fire have almost disappeared since the last game. Yes there was a mini interview with yallop but that has been about it. I like to following the happenings of the mls and the fire but there just does not seem to be an outlet other than this blog. I am thinking of starting a podcast that is done by a few interested fans that would actually broadcast on time twice a month. It might sound rather amateurish at start but should improve as things go along. I am interested what people think about this idea?

  • In reply to brokerjohn:

    Check out the Fuego De Mi Vida Podcast.....

  • Fire have the 13th pick in next week's Chivas USA dispersal draft.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    not good

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Hurtado should still be around for his triumphant return to TP by the 13th pick!

  • Bet the Fire take Bocanegra then realize after the draft that he retired.

  • Guys I am not feeling to good about old Yallop rebuilding a team that he helped destroy. Think about it he has no midfield he has a back up center forward and maybe 2 moderate quality defenders. In addition he has shown absolutely no ability to develop young players. Finally his only true scorer has an injury that very few players are able to rebound post operation. When you look at Orlando a new team that is literally searching the world for players and they already have kaka and a very good nucleus of a USL players. And the New York FC club owned and stocked with fabulous players from the Manchester city second team and you can see that next year could be the worst in the history of the fire. I am betting that Yallop is living in vancouver( his home) by late July. And the fans again wondering what in the earth spoiled Andy and the MLS are doing to improve the professional soccer scene in the largest midwest city.

  • In reply to brokerjohn:

    And this is what I'm afraid of. If the Fire get off to a poor start and are near the bottom of the table for most of the season will Andy pull the plug on the Frank 2.0 experiment and rebuild yet again? This team has to have some stability in order to improve. In no way am I saying Yallop is the guy to build this club, but Andy has never kept a coach longer than 2 and a half seasons. I just get this feeling that if the Fire have a repeat of 2014 Andy will fire Yallop and move on to the next guy he thinks is the guy to lead the team only to keep that guy around for about 2 years before moving on to the next one.

  • Jay Heaps has been coaching for 4 years. Just sayin'...

    2011 9th, Did not qualify 5–16–13
    2012 9th, Did not qualify 9–17–8
    2013 3rd, Conf. semifinal 14–11–9
    2014 2nd, TBD 17–13–4

  • Guys. Yallop is no jay heaps.

  • In reply to brokerjohn:

    No, he's not. I'm just bringing up a point about continuity. Two years in the gutter, then improvement, all under the same coach.

    I'd rather not do the Chivas or the Montreal regarding coaching tenures.

  • Which Seattle cast off do we get this season?

  • Any word on how much money the Fire wasted by re-signing Nyarko?

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