Fire notebook - moves ahead, Magee, Bliss, and more

The full MLS schedule is set to be announced on Thursday and the Player Combine takes place this weekend so things are about to pick up in terms of news around the league and in Chicago. The Fire are pursuing help on the backline as a priority. Expect the most significant signings this offseason to come at the center back position.

There’s plenty of Targeted Allocation Money available if that addition is of “DP” level salary and it’s possible that Kennedy Igboananike could be bought down again as well. The Fire have enough MLS funny money available to have some options.

Right back

Nelson Rodriguez and Veljko Paunovic also need to address the right back position but that reinforcement might come via the MLS SuperDraft. According to the Washington Post, projected top pick Josh Yaro has agreed to a Generation Adidas deal with the league and should be available for the Fire a week from Thursday. Yaro, a 5’-11” Junior from Georgetown, is projected as a fullback by most MLS scouts although he played centerback throughout his college career.


Although the European window is open, it’s not likely that David Accam moves just yet. Nelson Rodriguez shot down talks of imminent transfer last week and it seems that the Fire are looking to keep Accam in 2016.

While the winger has made no secret of his desires to play at the top level, he doesn’t have the international experience to qualify for a UK work permit so a move to the Premier League seems to be out of his grasp for now. Unless the Fire receive a substantial offer from an unexpected place, he’ll be back in Chicago for the second season of his three year deal. If he continues to produce, and stays healthy, both sides could benefit from a 2017 move.

Contrary to reports overseas, the Fire have received no offer from Stoke City.


Fire Academy products Cam Lindley and Mauricio Pineda have received call-ups to the US U-20 camp in Miami ahead of games on January 8 and 12. Both players were part of the Fire’s US Soccer Development Academy national championship team last summer and have been regulars for the US U-18 side.

The U-20’s are coached by Tab Ramos, who was widely thought to be the lead candidate for the Fire’s head coaching position before Veljko Paunovic was selected.

Another candidate who expressed some interest in the Chicago job has found his way from the broadcast booth to the sideline. Brad Friedel has been named the head coach of the US U-19 team.

Free Agent moves

Former Fire captain Jeff Larentowicz is reportedly set to join the Los Angeles Galaxy and it appears that he’ll have some familiar company next season in LA. Sources indicate that Mike Magee is close to signing on with his former club.

Magee had interest from Sporting Kansas City, Vancouver, and Chicago as well. Another source indicates that the Fire were prepared to bring him back but only at a certain financial threshold.

Tech staff shaping up

The Fire are close to finalizing deals for Paunovic’s bench staff. Additions are forthcoming on assistants, goalkeeper’s coach, strength and conditioning, and support staff. One name to watch for is Paunovic’s former lead assistant with the Serbian U-20 side. Marko Mitrovic is a strong possibility for the same position here, as is Logan Pause.

One valuable hand that may not be around after the next few weeks is Technical Director Brian Bliss. Sporting Kansas City is said to be offering a similar position. Bliss was thought to have agreed to stay in Chicago until the conclusion of the SuperDraft but Rodriguez left the door open for a permanent stay in November when Paunovic was hired.

Update 1:15 Nyarko asks for trade

The current longest tenured player on the team is set to depart. Midfielder Patrick Nyarko has asked for a trade and the Fire are trying to accommodate his wishes. It seems the preference would have been to keep him but the player felt he needed a change of scenery. The request was apparently made before the new technical staff came on board.

Filed under: 2016 Pre Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • Money aside, who wouldn't take an offer from LA over the Fire?

  • In reply to Bumsteer:

    Mike Magee wouldn't. We know that because he was on the same contract with either team for the Rodgers trade. We saw last winter Mike is mostly about the money, it's not surprising that he'd go to LA if they're willing to over pay.

  • In reply to iron81:

    I'm going to counter both things that you just said iron81. Sure 2 and half years ago he chose to come to Chicago over L.A. but that doesn't mean that he feels that same after wallowing in shit for the entire time. Shit why would he want to stay here if he can get a decent contract in L.A.? On the second point, I don't think it's fair to say that Magee is "mostly about the money" because he demanded a raise after an MVP season. Surely, he's concerned about his paycheck but it doesn't follow logically to assert that money is his primary concern.

  • In reply to jefe de fuego:

    He chose not to play at the end of the season because he was going to be a free agent and didn't want to get hurt. Of all the terrible moves that Yallop made while he was here, that Magee contract has to be up there with the Ianni/Hurtado trade and bringing in Matt Fondy. Magee is going to go where the money is, which you can't knock him for it.

  • As far as Bliss moving on, from a business and operations perspective, I get it. If someone's connections/philosophy/etc don't fit with the current powers-that-be, why bother keeping them? There's lots of people that can be a TD.

    That said, seeing Bliss going to another team hurts. He's going to find talent that makes whatever team he's with better.

    PS- hey Mike, say hello to The Gargan and Baggio for us.

  • I do not look at Magee playing for LA as a big loss except that he will no doubt come off the bench to score 3 goals against the Fire. I will not miss his constant complaining to the ref about a perceived missed call. He looked like a travel team soccer kid used to getting his way. If the Fire get Yaro in the Superdraft, he will be an automatic starter. If Yallop were coach he would start him at left back or midfield so that he can be as far away from his natural right back position as possible.

  • Thanks, for the update, especially on the technical staff side. I feel like those moves will tell us more about what this team is about than anything else at this point.


  • First comment on chicagonow so I would be remiss if I didn't say thank you Guillermo for providing news about the Fire for as long as you have.

    As a Fire fan by proximity (Wisconsin) and rooting for the "local team", I feel it's to naive to expect big name signings and announcements months into a regime change. It would be amazing to have Carlos Vela, Łukasz Piszczek, or Neven Subotic (one can dream right?) but the reality is that this will be a slow building process for the front office and the coaches/players. What we don't (or shouldn't) have is overinflated expectations like NYCFC where Paunovic is gone after going under .500 after one season. CF97 can use this to their advantage and build (seemingly) from the ground up. I will, however, sort of empathize with the fans who are a bit impatient with news announcements. There are probably a ton of behind the scenes "wheeling-and-dealings" going on and they're just waiting for the right opportunity to announce. NYCFC announcing that their ultimate goal for incoming manager Patrick Vieira is to be Man City manager is not only too soon, but it makes it real easy for MLS fans to root against them. CF97 aren't taking the same step. Outlets like these are nice in holding me over with news though.

  • In reply to Set Piece Guru:

    Thanks Set Piece.

    I know it's hard to hear and people don't want to hear it, but some patience will be required.

  • In reply to Set Piece Guru:

    That would be a huge achievement if we were anywhere close to .500 at the end of the season. I would take a .500 season right now if it were offered.

  • Bridgeview planning a new dome near Toyota Park to replace the damaged existing facility.....

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Are the Fire planning on replacing Bliss before the Superdraft and/or before the Preseason starts at the end of the month?

  • Guys I am told that season tickets for the fire are doing horribly. Maybe nr should take a PR lesson and realize that the lack of any news kills a team. a product without sales is just a product. If they are not planning on selling the team they have to get their thoughts out to the few followers of the team. At this point their is no reason to buy a season ticket. Anyone can go to any game and buy a ticket without shelling out season ticket money.

  • fb_avatar

    Mr. Rivera, I just recently discovered your great coverage of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club. Thank you for providing valuable information we the fans never get from the club directly until it is really "Old News"! Your rumors and instant knowledge of upcoming moves has been spot on and keeps fans like me interested in the club. While we all wait for any news whatsoever, you provide us with all we need. As a fan I am quite concerned, our roster is bare, our owner is in LA, our President back "home" in New Jersey, and our new coach back "home" in Barcelona! Who in hell is running the team, it's not Bliss who just left today for KC, and who is working on the evaluations for the draft in 2 weeks! To say I am concerned would be an understatement, we have one "commuter" already our owner, our new President, and Coach sure as hell should move here on a permanent basis to show the commitment! The season starts in less than 8 weeks and the Fire is really behind in all aspects of preparing for the season! Most of our team "leadership" was released and the expectations are they are signing elsewhere, Nyarko has asked to be traded, are we planning to compete with St. Louis F.C., or in Major League Soccer? If relegation were a reality we would be in Division 2 right now and worried about Division 3 next year! Somebody do something quick to stop the bleeding and start the recovery! Bob

  • In reply to Bob Bilocerkowycz:

    Thanks Bob! Much appreciated and thanks for commenting.

    Your concerns are valid and echoed by many fans but as I said above, it's difficult to preach patience right now. Let's wait and see what Rodriguez and Paunovic have in mind. The answers should come soon enough.

  • fb_avatar

    Perefectly stated both about Guillermo's reporting and the current state of the club. I was trying to remain positive but the newest info on Magee not looking to re-up, Bliss finding a ticket out, and most of all, Nyarko of all people, looking for a move, has really been the tipping point for me. Things look very dire right now, especially, as you said, with no one even in Chicago.

  • I'm with most of you guys. I decided to be more positive this year as I had been so angry with this organization that it just wasn't healthy and I either needed to relax or walk away.
    Being a big soccer fan in Chicagoland, means that I am by default a fan of this team. While I do not expect this team to compete for an MLS cup anytime soon, I was hoping to have a team that I can get behind.
    That being said, I am with Bob and the state of the team. Who is making the decisions about the Superdraft? Are they simply picking off of the Soccerbyives Big Board?
    Where are the coaches and technical staff?
    Players report in 19 days, and of the 11 players who have actually played MLS minutes, one wants a trade.
    I am trying really hard to stay positive, but this organization does not make it very easy does it?

  • In reply to Folsom23:

    Maybe they don't need a big board to know that Yaro will be the first pick. ;)

  • Just weeks before training camp and we're still losing pieces faster than adding them. I understand the need for patience. But just what are we patiently waiting for?!? Somebody else to leave? There doesn't seem to be anything else happening.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    The next two weeks will be pretty busy.

  • Busy how?
    Picking out office furniture? Deciding where to put the picture of the kids in the office? Booking flights to and from New Jersey and to the combine/draft?

    Communication is key in any relationship and with the state of the team they can ill afford to keep the fans in the dark. Asking for a blank check of faith, patience and trust while the "plan" is put into place by a rookie GM and a rookie coach is asking a bit much of the fan base after the last two years.

  • Oh thank god. No more Nyarko. It's like Christmas and my birthday happened at the same time, except better.

    Best move the Fire have made in years.

  • In reply to TomazPP:

    Why so much animosity toward Patty Ni??? Dang, it's not like the dude led the team in assists three years in a row or anything. Shit!

    I for one will be sad to see the last of the Fire faithful to go.

  • In reply to jefe de fuego:

    Quality guy on and off the field who understood what the club's history meant.

    He'll be reunited with Chris Rolfe in DC.

  • In reply to TomazPP:

    TomazPP you've been the poster boy for being wrong over the years, can't wait to see how this turns out for us.

  • In reply to milicz:

    Awesome! I've never been a poster boy for anything before. Fun times.

    But I don't really see how my intense dislike for Nyarko really has any baring on anyone or anything else.

    Also, as with any other time anyone makes a hyperbolic statement like "best move in years", I was being more than a bit sardonic. "Personal favorite" might be considerably more accurate than "best".

  • Patrick was Fire from when the Fire were the Fire.
    What we are looking at now, structurally across the organization, is an expansion team, without the, now de rigueur, big name signing.
    Would you care to bet LAFC, Atlanta, Minn., and Team Becks have staff in place more than a month before their first seasons.
    Even equipment managers.

    Best of luck to Patrick, and may God have mercy on our mortal souls (if you buy unto that).

  • fb_avatar

    Yes Thank you Guillermo for the team news and updates. I follow your writing more than I do the Fire website.

    My two cents about Magee and Nyarko leaving:
    Magee can go wherever he likes. He will ask for another inflated contract. IMO he is not worth 400k. It's all downhill for his career from now on (age/injuries). It would be nice to have his experience around a young team. But it seemed like he didn't want to be here the last two years anyways. Thanks for the MVP season though Mike.

    The Nyarko move stings me a little more. One of my favorite players since I started following Fires in 09'. Maybe it was made clear to him that his role this year would be off the bench or minor and he didn't like that. He's been through alot of coaching changes and feels it's not the right place for him. Who knows.. But if he wants to go might as well get something decent in return. I'm thinking DC's #13 1st round pick... If not than GA /TAM money will do I guess.

  • I've never ate so much popcorn waiting for the movie to start than I have this offseason.

    I just hope it has a good ending.

  • In reply to BrianC.:

    Han dies. ;)

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Guillermo .... Spoiler alert!!

    Bob and Carl and Folsom and Arklow .... As to the whole rebuild thing .... sure it's tough to wait and wait .... but let us not forget that from 1997-98 thru 2007-08 the Blackhawks failed to qualify for the post-season 9 out of 10 times .... while it's obvious that the changes in 2008 thru today have made them one of the premier franchises in all of sports - by adding/developing youth and adding piece by piece to their roster using a PLAN (sound familiar?). Building takes seasons .... and management/ownership must be patient and focused .... and fans must be patient and supportive as well.
    Also, does anyone care where Coach Q lives - or where he is on vacation - or what he's doing during the offseason - until he shows up for the start of the Hawks season???

  • In reply to southsidefutbol:

    A change in ownership was the impetus for the turn around. We need the same here for results...

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to DerSting:

    Nailed it. Wow I miss the days of PW and BB...

  • fb_avatar

    Sad to see Nyarko leave, but he hasn't been quite the same player he was prior to his injuries several years ago. Although his loss will be felt, I don't feel the loss will be crucial to the team's future.
    Good move for both the player and the Fire. Best wishes for him.

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