Fire add Daniel Johnson, Guillermo Delgado, Stefan Cleveland and more GAM in day 1 of SuperDraft

In an appropriate twist to this year’s SuperDraft, the Fire became the first team in MLS to have the amount of Allocation Money acquired via trade announced publicly. Chicago cashed in for the third overall pick in the Draft by sending the selection to New York City FC in exchange for $250,000.00 in General Allocation Money. The league will now apparently publish GAM/TAM amounts in trade announcements.

New York City FC selected Akron forward Jonathan Lewis with the pick. Lewis had a brief stint in the Fire Academy system but did not qualify for a HomeGrown deal. The Fire have added a considerable amount of Allocation Money via the trade.

“We had discussed a lot of different scenarios in advance of the Draft,” said General Manager Nelson Rodriguez of the trade. “We had a group of players that we liked. We explored a lot of different options in the days leading to the Draft. We had explored a purchase of another pick in the top ten, so that we would have number three and another selection. We had explored trading down from three, swapping spots and adding resources. We had also discussed making a selection. In the end, we feel that the money we were able to procure via General Allocation puts us in a better position to try to close one of these targets that we have had for several weeks.”

The money can be used to either add another player or buy-down a current player to add a higher level reinforcement.

“That’s the beauty of General Allocation Money. I call it the swiss army knife of resources in MLS,” said Rodriguez. “We can use it to acquire players within the league or we can use it to buy-down salaries against the team’s budget. In the end, we’re hopeful now that this will enable us to close the final gap and final offer.”

With the eleventh pick in the Draft, the Fire passed on adding a right back and instead opted for Louisville’s Daniel Johnson. The 5′-9″, right footed midfielder impressed during the Combine this week and said following the Draft that he was hoping to land in Chicago.

“I listed Chicago as one of my favorite interviews and I was hoping that I would end up there,” said Johnson after being selected by the Fire. “There were a few meetings that stuck out and Chicago was one that I remember the entire meeting. It felt like they had tailored their questions to me and had done their research and had done a fair amount of scouting me. They were able to not just stick to a template of a generic interview. Some teams approach the interview process with that style.”

Johnson comes to MLS after transferring from the University of Maryland to Louisville because the “system” was a better fit for him. He also spent 3-1/2 years overseas training with West Ham’s Academy but could not sign with the club due to work permit issues. “I learned so much about myself when I went over there at 14 (years old),” said Johnson. “I was over without parents and had to mature at an alarming rate in order to survive and be successful.”

“On the field, it was incredible to be in that sort of environment, learn everyday, and be around pros being really a young pro, because that’s what it takes to make it there. In meetings with West Ham and meetings with the coaching staff, a lot of the comparisons made (were to) Joe Cole when he was younger. It felt like I was on that trajectory and had the skill set that Joe Cole had coming up.”

The inability to land a work permit halted that dream and Johnson returned to the States. “Having that opportunity taken away from me by factors outside of my ability on the field was devastating. That experience and dealing with that adversity taught me so much about how I deal with adversity. Everyone has a different path to their goals, and it’s not always clear cut.”

Johnson also said he sees himself as a versatile wide attacker. “I’m comfortable on the left. I’m right-footed but I like to drift in and find pockets. As far as an opportunity to play on the right, I’m comfortable on the wing, playing more of an inverted game on the left but also being able to do some of the things that a traditional winger does if I’m deployed on the right.” Johnson also said that he started playing on the wings in the last few years after growing up playing in the “10” spot.

Rodriguez said Johnson gives them a player with qualities different from those on the team now. He believes Johnson can back-up David Accam on the left side or slide inside as more of a playmaker.

The Fire weren’t done on the day.

Without a pick in the second round, they traded $75,000.00 in Targeted Allocation Money to Toronto FC in exchange for the 26th and 27th overall picks.

The Fire used the first pick to select a teammate of Johnson, Louisville goalkeeper Stefan Cleveland. He will likely round out the Fire’s goalkeeping corps with Jorge Bava and Matt Lampson going into camp.

The next choice landed University of Delaware forward Guillermo Delgado, who grew up in Spain and has been described as a “quicker Michael de Leeuw” type of player. Delgado will occupy an international roster spot if he makes the club.

Rodriguez wasn’t concerned about Delgado’s international status. “We believe that this is a very good player. A player who is dynamic off the ball. A player who knows how to find space and how to exploit it. A proven finisher and he has good pedigree, having been educated in Spain,” he said. The Fire will speak to Delgado about the possibility of a green card application in the coming days.

Rodriguez said he’s not likely to look within the league for a right back. “We’re aware of where our overall roster is,” he said. “In the end, we felt that DJ suggested a little bit of special talent, so we wanted to grab that. In the second round, we felt that the trade with Toronto enabling us to get (Cleveland and Delgado) were better moves. We still have options at right back. We have Michael Harrington. We have Johan, who can play there. We’ve spoken to some folks outside the league and we still have two more rounds of this Draft next week.”

The Fire hold the 47th and 69th overall picks when the SuperDraft resumes on Tuesday.





Filed under: 2017 Pre Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • Guys

    The reality of the draft and NR is that over two different very high drafts picks 1st and 3rd we have Vincent who is a very average left fullback. The New York City Football team has Jack Harrison a wonderfully talented midfielder and Lewis a midfielder of the future. The NY football team must look at Nr and Pauno as if they are the dumbest football directors in the world. I guess that the second rounders can build up their skills on our USL team. O I forgot we are don't have a lower level team.

  • In reply to Brokerman:

    Not sure how you can pass final judgement on Vincent. Many players do not blossom until their second or third year. In the end, Vincent could very well end up being a better player than Harrison

    This year the Fire got NYC to give them $250k for an unproven college player who may not amount to anything. Well-done by the Fire if you ask me. They can use that money to help obtain a good, proven player.

  • In reply to John Andre:

    I'd take $250k for that pick all day, every day.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I was stunned when I heard the number. If that money gets us another do by buying down accam or Juninho I ay job well done

  • In reply to Brokerman:

    Calm down. On his podcast, Alexi Lalas said that there was no way Harrison was going to Chicago. He talked with the league and made it a condition of entering the draft that he would end up at NYCFC.

    We have had plenty of players blossom after being picked in the second and lower rounds - CJ Brown, Sean Johnson, Logan Pause, Chris Rolfe and Gonzalo Segares (same year! 3rd round!), Jim Curtin, Damani Ralph, Dasan Robinson... We have also had a fair number of 1st round duds. It happens. The $250K is a good chunk of change. Granted, it will look different if it goes to bringing in another MacDonald or Thiam. But lamenting the unproven 22 year old that we might have gotten is adding unnecessary stress to your life. Wait a couple years to start gnashing your teeth over this draft.

  • In case anyone else needs a refresher on TAM & GAM:

  • Good move getting all that dough at #3. Let's hope that NR can USE this extra cash to get a quality RB. A Chandler, Lichaj, or Spector would be nice.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to go fire:

    Would love to see anyone of those options but Chandler would be way too much $ both in salary and transfer fee, Spector would command a DP tag (I dont think he would take a salary of <1mil, but maybe if it was a long contract, and I think Lichaj would also command a decent transfer fee/salary. I may be wrong but RB seems like a position they are hesitant to spend any real $ on (even more so than any other position).

  • In reply to Carl Miller:

    Right back really isn't a position that MLS teams look to spend money on.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    What position are they targeting then?

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Do you think Houston over paid for DeLaGarza?

  • In reply to AJties:

    No. Good player.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Have you heard anything about Dax?

  • In reply to go fire:

    Chandler is not coming to MLS. He treated the USMNT callups like a poisoned chalice.

    Aside from that there's the complication of the Allocation Order- we just used our high position (plus a trade) to get Juninho. I don't kow how Lichaj or Spector would be treated - they haven't been playing for the national team much recently - but tht process is pretty arbitrary.

  • GR, any thoughts on these picks for those of us that don't follow college soccer?

  • In reply to Shinny:

    It always hard to tell with these draft picks. I don't watch much college soccer myself but Johnson was one of the better players at the Combine. It's wait and see every year at this time.

  • fb_avatar

    If they end up giving Delgado a contract, that would mean they have 5 forwards not including Calistri or Accam...are we looking at a battle in preseason between Arshakyan and Delgado for a place on the roster?

    All in all, a pretty good draft. If they turn that $250k ($175k net) into a solid RB, it becomes a great draft. With his comments about Harington and 3rd and 4th round draft picks being options at RB I am a little nervous though. I would gladly prefer to see Ramos resigned over any of those options but that appears increasingly less likely. Hopefully they find a solid option abroad.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Carl Miller:

    Any idea if they are looking at any americans abroad? One or two options at RB but I would be very surprised if that happens. The one player I am surprised we havent heard about any MLS team going after yet is Josh Gatt. Coming of some terrible injuries but worth the gamble for a non-DP and non-TAM player on a free transfer that doesnt take an international slot and has tons of upside. Bring him back to the mid-west!

  • It's important to note that the money we got was GAM, and the money traded for the 2 picks in the 2nd round was TAM, which is not as useful as GAM. So technically not a net $175k.

    I'm disappointed they didn't get a RB. I was hoping they'd grab the guy from Maryland, but I don't watch college soccer and acknowledge I don't know anything about these players except what I've read in the last month or so. If the skinny midfielder works out, great. A player on track to join a European club before age 15 must have some potential, and I'll be rooting for him.

    I was very happy that they traded back into the draft for not 1 but 2 picks. The team needs players to fill the gaps and create a pipeline of talent. Hopefully some of these acquisitions will stay for more than a year and a half. With Pause gone (I'm still in mourning), it feels like there is no more "tradition" at the club, so they better start creating their own with this group. You cleaned house and are doing it your way NR, now it's time to start producing some results and prove why you should run this team. I've been doing my best to stay patient, but it's time to get off the floor of the league and end this run of futility.

  • In reply to AJties:

    Good eye on the TAM vs GAM. You may have a future in the front office. Can you manipulate a calculator while talking out both sides of your mouth?

  • If the Fire had drafted GA player at No 3, would not the savings on salary and the cap amount to close, if not more, than the $250,000? There is at least 2 years of GA coverage on the Salary.The Shipp deal for $100,000 was similar in that Shipp's salary as a HGP didn't count against the cap, or was that no longer the case?
    Did we spend that $100,000 on Thiam or Arshakyan?

  • One thing that no one has commented on is that both Johnson and Delgado spent time in European academies - Johnson with West Ham, and Delgado with Getafe.

    I think this says something about what the Fire FO was looking for in the draft this year. Granted, Cleveland (props to him from a Believeland native) never played overseas, but he's a 'keeper. I wonder if the overseas experience somehow reassured NR/VP.

    GR, it might be interesting to ask NR on one of his press calls if that's something they were looking for in their draft picks this year.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    He did mention their soccer pedigrees yesterday.

  • The feel the Fire chose to partner with Tulsa bc since they were the worse in the usl they might want some players to help them by taking our younger less expierienced players on loan and play them longer then our young players played with St Louis

  • In reply to Firefan5819:

    I'm wondering if Tulsa being in the Western Conference of USL factored in any way as far as style, gameplay, opponents, that sort of thing. Maybe it just was a marriage of convenience. We may never know.

  • In reply to BrianC.:

    I would like to know why the Fire and St. Louis thing ended.

  • Hey, not a problem with drafting a kid maturing "at an alarming rate" (I just hope his clothes weren't tearing off of him in the process...!) - heck, Mike Magee was 15 when he struck out on his own, didn't turn out too terribly bad. The Fire rookies of the recent past - Berry, Shipp, Poster - all had impressive starts.

  • Guys

    I am floored with the trade. This is hard to say but congratulations to NR in his use of the $150 for DAX. Unbelievable

  • In reply to Brokerman:

    Let's hope it's true

  • Dax is the real deal, and if he's paired with Juninho in the midfield we'll have a solid center. Question who goes - first thought is Polster, but he's doesn't take up an international spot. Goosens does.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    This is a good move. Dax seems like a good character guy, and we need those at the club. But, if this move, moves Polster off the field, then it is not a good move. Polster is our Armas/Pause type leader for the next decade, IMO. 4-3-3 with Dax, Juninho, and Polster sounds a lot better than a 4-4-2 with Goosens on the field.

  • What is concerning is the way that the trade was discussed in one of the articles about Dax on the site - sounds like he just got married, went off to USMNT camp, and them *bam* learns that he's traded. To the worst team in the league.

  • In reply to Modibo:

    Yeah, I'm sure he's wonderin' who hacked into their gift registry...
    Good addition for us, tho.

  • Baby grab yer hat 'n coat, Dax McCarty's comin' to town! I AM IM-PRESSED!! Solid pick-up, fo' true! I guess on the downside, somebody's gonna get squeezed
    out - hope it's not Matt. We've certainly got enough talent to do SOMETHIN' this year.

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