Fire notebook - Opening opponent named, preseason, and more

Major League Soccer has announced 2016 home openers for all 20 teams. Every club will be in action on Sunday, March 6 with the Fire starting the season off against New York City FC at Toyota Park at 1PM. The entire schedule is expected to be released on or about January 7.


With Chicago passing during the Waiver and Re-Entry Drafts, the next scheduled opportunity for new player additions will come on January 16 via the SuperDraft. With only 15 players currently signed to the roster, the Fire are almost certain to be active when transfer windows open overseas on January 1. As it stands right now, there are only 3 of 8 international roster spots spoken for. Joevin Jones, Kennedy Igboananike, and Gilberto occupy those positions.

The Fire announced last week that training camp will begin on January 24 when players report for physicals. They’ll train at the PrivateBank Fire Pitch from January 25-29 before departing to train at the University of South Florida campus on January 31.

They’ll return to Chicago briefly on February 12 and close out the preseason by participating in the Simple Invitational in Portland from February 15-28. The announced preseason schedule so far includes games that are part of the Invitational:

Sunday, February 1 vs Vancouver Whitecaps at 4:30 CT

Wednesday, February 24 vs Minnesota United FC at 7:00 CT

Saturday, February 27 vs Portland Timbers at 7:00 CT

Roster moves

Nelson Rodriguez and Veljko Paunovic have 13 roster spots open, budget space, General Allocation Money, Target Allocation Money, International spots, and a lot of work to do between now and January 24. The lack of player acquisitions via the MLS off-season draft pool shouldn’t come as much of a surprise considering that the most attractive potential additions on the defensive end of the field were taken off the board via signings or trades. Steven Beitashour, Pa Moduo Kah, and Drew Moor are all players that were initially listed on the Re-Entry availability or free agency list but have since found new deals elsewhere. Beitshour and Moor, along with another potential target in Will Johnson all ended up at Toronto FC, while Kah re-signed with the Whitecaps.

It’s also possible that some of the names that went unselected in Phase 2 of the Re-Entry draft end up in camp with the Fire. Jon Busch is still available as a back-up for Sean Johnson, and the door has been left open for Jeff Larentowicz to return if he doesn’t find a deal to his liking in another city. Spots for “depth” players will certainly be open across the league with very little activity taking place in Re-Entry this year.

A report earlier this week linked Mike Magee to Chicago, Vancouver, Sporting Kansas City, or Los Angeles but a return to the Fire doesn’t seem likely.

The current roster:

GK: Sean Johnson

DF: Patrick Doody, Eric Gehrig, Joevin Jones

MF: Kinglsey Bryce, David Accam, Collin Fernandez, Patrick Nyarko, Matt Polster, Harry Shipp, Michael Stephens, Drew Conner

FW: Kennedy Igboananike, Gilberto, Joey Calistri


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  • We have half of a team right now. We need players to come in and be very good right away. Are there players that are available out there that can do that? We have money available, which is fine, but I dont know if the players are there to sign. It is going to be an interesting month of January. I am determined to keep an open mind and give the club time to figure it out but its already hard to do.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    The soccer market covers the globe. There are certainly players out there who can help but transfer cost and contract expiration always comes into play at this time of the year. They can pay a fee to get a guy in camp (like they did with Maloney), they can sign a guy and wait until July, or they can deal within MLS. I don't know about the big DP market right now, but I'm sure they will be active with Euro and South American based signing.

    Btw...he may not end up in Chicago, but expect that the Carlos Vela talk will heat up again for the summer window.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    We can sign 5 international players, which is fine and I am keeping an open mind on who they bring in. The problem is finding those 8 American players that we will need. Are there good enough American players available right now? That's more where I was going. Does big red come back? Would he be our captain again? So many questions...

  • Thanks for the update Guillermo. Any thoughts on who you'd like to see NRod go after? I saw an mls article saying O'Dea is interested in coming back. I know Ventura Alvarado is transfer listed. I figure why not fill the silence from the team with some speculation. I think it's easy to see we fans are all getting nervous about how many spots there are to fill.

  • In reply to AJties:

    Alvarado would be interesting and he's supposedly on Club America's transfer list. That would be a quality add.

    O'Dea wouldn't be a bad one to add. He could be someone that would draw some interest from Chicago at the right price.

  • I cannot remember a time when the roster was this thin heading into the transfer window and the draft. I like the kid Yaro from Georgetown not so much as a CB but as RB. Since we don't have a second round pick, that is as far as help in the draft I can foresee. I see Yaro being an immediate starter for the Fire at RB and if need be CB despite only being 5'11".

  • In reply to Krasov:

    If Yaro comes out, you'd have to think they would take him. He may not be a sure fire CB but he appears talented enough to play outside. At 5-11, I've seen folks rate him at either spot. I haven't seen much of him myself but you'd ideally like a bigger half back....although being 5-11 doesn't necessarily mean he can't play there in MLS.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I saw him play. He is a really tough kid and fast. I think he can definitely play in the middle of the field. Hope the fire get him.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I thought I read somewhere that he is graduating in January. He is just a junior with a 3.8 GPA so maybe he was able to graduate early but a year and a half early is probably too much.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    Yes. He's a junior but has not declared yet although most folks think he's coming out.

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    Alvarado and Yaro would be great steps in rebuilding the back line. USMNT fans give Alvarado such a hard time but I think he is a very promising CB that will most likely stay in the MNT player pool. The ever reliable (sarcasm) has his value at around 1.5 mil euros (very close to the $ right now) and as far as his salary, his loan moves say they were for 250,000 euros so unless the teams he was loaned out to were only paying part of his salary, I dont think he would even come close to knocking on the DP tag... I think you would be hard pressed to find a better young CB for a salary less than $300k.
    I too am wondering where we find 8 more Americans, with one good draft pick and a few fire players with options declined/ other free agents signed, we would still be well short. Trades? most likely but we really only have $ to trade and I would rather see that go to signing higher quality starters.

  • Some tidbits from the interwebs today.....

    Former Fire coach Frank Yallop has joined USL side Arizona United SC as head coach and Director of Soccer Operations.

    David Accam has apparently recently completed a training stint at Stoke City.

  • Greek site claims Fire are interested in Olympiakos' striker Alan Pulido

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    When defense is the biggest issue, why are they focusing on a striker? Is Iggy on his way out?

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    A $22 MM transfer fee for this guy is insane. His scoring output in Mexico was unimpressive. And has he even played for Olympiakos this season?

  • In reply to StaryByk3:

    Completely insane.

  • Guys if the fire lose accam who do they have to draw any fans to s harlem street.
    As I count the roster the fire only have 13 players if you minus out the two home grown signings.

  • In reply to Brokerman:

    I like David Accam; exciting player who makes defenders uncomfortable. But if Stoke is offering 4 million euros, how can the Fire pass that up? Like it or not, MLS is a seller's league. If played intelligently, you take that 4 million and bring in new, up-and-coming talent.

  • In reply to StaryByk3:

    I think a lot of the money goes to the league, so that reduces the benefit of a sale. Also, does anyone think that the Fire can find an equivalent talent level player to replace Accam? I agree that it would be very difficult to turn down the money, but it will be even more difficult to replace Accam.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    I guess I've never thought about the % of $ from the sale of a player that goes to the league. The real question though is how many "Garber Points" would we get under the table for the next time the league has to decide where to send a high profile player? Maybe "additional blind draw envelopes" is the better way to put it. Happy Holidays to all! All I want for Christmas is Geoff Cameron in a Fire jersey!

  • In reply to Krasov:

    The league gets 1/3.

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    I see just about zero point in selling Accam. He was our brightest spot last season and would definitely be a piece I'd build around. I would at least hold off on selling him until after next season. If we even put minimal talent around him and his numbers are boosted next season we could get dramatically more than a €4 million fee for him. More so than anything I just want to see AH spend some of his money since we already have quite a bit between lack players on the roster and various forms of "you suck" league money. We don't need to sell Accam this season and if we do it will do little but further reinforce the belief that AH is cheap and doesn't care about the product.

  • Merry Christmas all!

    Here's to hoping you found a centerback or two under your tree.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Merry Christmas to you, too. The only thing I found under my tree was another bag of popcorn to eat while we wait for things to unfold.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Thanks for what you've done again this year, Guillermo, to keep us informed. Fire Confidential is the gift that keeps on giving.

    Would have been nice if the Fire FO gave the supporters a little holiday message on the website (as other teams did - NYCFC, Revs, FCD, DC, Montreal to name a few).

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Thanks reading and actively participating with your comments here Modibo!

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Given the Fire FO's track record we should probably find our annual blessing in their silence.

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    Guillermo. I see the youth team is in Miami for a pretty big tournament do you know who is the coach?

  • In reply to Keith Woller:

    I'm not sure who the coach will be. I know Segares has done a lot of work with the traveling youth squads.

  • In reply to Keith Woller:

    Kevin Egan is covering for BeIn. Academy coach Charlie Trout is leading them.

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    Fire up 2 nil on Club America at the half on BeIn Espanol. Our boys look great.

  • For those wondering, the U12s lost to Valencia 1-0 and beat Club America 5-0 yesterday. Looked good in both games.

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