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
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