Fire Confidential Live podcast with guest Nelson Rodriguez

The latest episode of the podcast features the Fire’s new General Manager Nelson Rodriguez.

Following the formal introduction of Veljko Paunovic as the new coach, Rodriguez sat down to address a wide range of topics including the timeline for implementing his plan in Chicago, a Fire USL side, the team’s medical staff, roster, Carlos Vela and Designated Players, the futures of Brian Bliss and Logan Pause, and more.


Filed under: 2015 Post season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • Apologies guys. We also had a segment with Paunovic recorded but technical issues on our end scrapped the audio.

    He did say that he was looking to fill out his technical staff with MLS experienced coaches and some that he knows from his work in Europe. He's spoken to the current players under contract and will do his best to get those guys into the situations they're looking for. He's interested in seeing what's available in re-entry. He also sees Harry Shipp as a central midfielder in a 4231 or 433. He likes his vision and playmaking ability but says he needs pieces around him. He also realizes they need to find defensive help.

  • Guys one thing is for sure Nelson can talk and talk and talk without answering to many questions. I think he said the ah is to cheap to think about a usl team, that his coaches contacts are in Europe and that didn't expect much success for three years.

  • In reply to Brokerman:

    Professional hedging. Under-promise, over-deliver. "Oh, we pulled the rabbit out of the hat in our second year? Bully!"

  • Listened to the podcast. NR is clearly very polished. I was hoping he would be a little less formal with you guys. There is nothing off the cuff with this guy. I do think that he will have the courage and conviction to stick with his plan. It will not be a quick fix approach but a project to rebuild the entire culture of the Fire in the image he wants. I don't think NR will ever be the guy who hangs out with fans haVing a beer. But if the plan works I don't care. It would be nice if he were a little less stiff.

  • Very stiff. Can tell he sticks to talking points like a champ, which I'm sure Hauptman loves. The USL thing is clearly a very big red flag that either NR is an idiot or, again, that despite all this talk of resources, Hauptman remains cheap. The Fire, who used to be at the forefront of player development are being left in the dust because the quality of lay in MLS has risen and HGPs with the Fire don't have a spot in a CLUB CONTROLLED environment to develop.

    St. Louis isn't good enough anymore. I don't want to hear anymore talk of big resources until they announce a USL team.

  • In reply to seaside:

    We cant even get players that are good enough for our first team. Why do we need a 2nd team? I think it is more important to fix the first team before we look at, or create, a second team.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    You can't get a little bit pregnant. Either you are fixing things (the first team AND the homegrown/young/up-and-coming talent,) or you're not (by leaving something unfinished, in this case the HG/Y/UaC talent.) You can sign players to the first team, but until you have a good development system below you, you're going to be heavily dependent on scouting for your first-team players. I think that's the point he was bringing up.

  • In reply to BrianC.:

    Aren't there a few ways you can look at youth development side of things? Right now, the focus could possibly be to grow and improve the Fire's academy and youth teams so that the ability to field a USL team would be a no brainer. If they look at fielding a USL team right now as a waste of money, they might be right if that team would be developing or fielding players the Fire do not have an affiliation with and do not intend to develop long term. When they get to a tipping point where placing players with St. Louis no longer makes sense because they would be able to create their own team with a super majority of their own players, then when they do not do that you will see whether AH is who we think he is. I don't know the answer as to whether the Fire is already at that tipping point or not. I think, but again I have no idea, that they are closer than portrayed because there have been so many Fire Academy players making the US National Youth teams. If you build or create a USL team, will talent simply appear that was not there before? I do believe that there is a gap between the youth/academy system and the Fire first team. There are 10s of 1000s of youth players in top youth clubs from Milwaukee to South Bend that all should be on the Fire's radar. Could or should that be reason enough to build a USL team, I don't know. If the answer is yes, then there is a reason to complain. I do agree that a Fire USL team (or the equivalent) will definitely be necessary in long term. My only question is what is the first step to get there?

  • In reply to BrianC.:

    If you think we are going to fix the club in one off season, you're gonna have a bad time. IMO, the first team is priority number 1, 2, and 3. We had to play players like Jason Johnson and Chris Ritter last season. There are only 14 players on the roster right now. We need to find a lot of players to just fill our roster for next season. Creating another team would be a mistake, right now. I would love to see a USL team in the future, but that means nothing to me, right now.

  • Massive thanks again to Guillermo for the continuing coverage of this offseason.

    I listened dutifully and yep it's clear that Nelson is a professional -- knows how to talk the talk and hopefully how to walk it as well. I was right with him until about the 24:45 point where he essentially said if 2016 needs to be another down year, so be it. My reaction to that (voiced aloud, actually) was along the lines of, "well if the club is going to wait 2-3 years to do anything to make the Fire relevant in the local market again, then, fine, it'll be another 2-3 years before this former STH gives them a single red cent".

    I really hope these guys get this: we fans understand you can't build a winner in one offseason, but in order to buy our faith for the duration, you need to invest a ton in the gameday experience and innovate in other ways. Lucky for them, they only need to look at recent moves in Columbus and SKC for inspiration.

    If they expect us to show up next year to park on the same gravel lot, watch the same tired halftime programming and cheer another group of no-name players -- sorry, being a bit harsh for the sake of hyperbole there -- just because they're wearing red kits with white stripes, they are sadly mistaken. So far I'm not holding my breath.

  • In reply to schematic1929:

    Thanks Schematic!

  • In reply to schematic1929:

    So what you're saying is that bubble soccer is not your idea of quality half-time entertainment? ;) (I kid. I agree on the halftime entertainment, actually. That's why I do other things then.)

    On a serious note, at half-time of MLS cup, I heard "28 teams" stated. Was there an official announcement? It sounds to me like MLS being structured like the other major sports franchise has been cemented and any talk of pro/rel just went waaat the heck down the road.

  • In reply to BrianC.:


  • Yes 28 teams was announced. Watch Don Garber's interview with Landon Donovan. It was a good interview and thought Garber was very candid with his answers. He referred to NR as his very good friend. I think NR was brought in by the league and the constant love for AH is for him to save face publicly.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    Hmm. I could see pro/rel happening, but only if the leagues operate under either a super-league of sorts or a more co-mingled working arrangement (example MLS+USL,) which would also mean each league agreeing to it's place on the USSF table (sorry NASL.) This would also mean that MLS and NASL ownership would have to acknowledge each other's existence...

    I know it sounds silly and far-fetched, but for American sports, it's the only way I could see it existing with the way MLS is structuring itself.

  • In reply to BrianC.:

    Not happening in our life times.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I dont think it will ever happen. What owner is going to want to pay 100n+ to get into the league and then get relegated the next season?

  • A tough crowd.

    Some Fire fans are really difficult to please, and seem determined to be unhappy no matter what happens.

  • In reply to Charles Jogues:

    Wins....just win.

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