A calculated risk?

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In the winter of 2006, I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to London to visit my Aunt and Uncle. In short, it was an absolutely fantastic trip. My family and I saw the houses of Parliament, the crown jewels, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and even took a short trip up to Scotland. Truly, it was the trip of a lifetime.

But for me – the consummate soccer fan – the highlight of the vacation didn’t come in a museum or at a monument. Rather, it came on an otherwise normal Wednesday night southeast of London at – you guessed it – a soccer match. The game was Fulham at Charlton Athletic and it was unforgettable. It ended in a 2-2 draw (Brian McBride scored Fulham’s first) and Collins John hit the pitch in the 65th minute to a raucous chorus of cheers and songs from the Fulham section (where I was sitting with my cousin, a Fulham fan). John – who had just turned 21 – had his best Fulham days behind him at that point, but the sense of excitement, the knowledge that at any moment John could produce a goal out of nothing was still palpable amongst the Fulham faithful.
Ultimately, John couldn’t keep generating that excitement. He left Fulham, bounced around Europe a bit and now – just three years after that night in SE London – is rumored to be on the verge of joining the Fire. Should John join the Fire – where he would be reunited with ex-Fulham teammate McBride – he would be coming in at what has to be the lowest point of his young career. He has struggled with his fitness and attitude in recent years and he failed to score before being released from his last team – KSV Roeselare of the Belgian League – in December.

But despite his baggage and loss of form, it seems as if Technical Director Frank Klopas and the Fire are willing to give John a chance at making the 2010 roster.

“I’ve met with Collins and we know he’s a quality player,” Klopas said. “He’s had some issues the last couple of years which I know of and that is important. In this league with the salary cap you have to take calculated risks to make sure you make the right decisions. Our goal is to bring him into camp and give him an opportunity to see how he fits in and make a decision at that time.”

Klopas has spoken to McBride about John, who he would likely pair with up top should the Fire bring the Dutchman to Chicago.

“I’ve spoken to Brian about him and I’ve spoken to [former Fire defender and John’s ex-teammate Carlos Bocanegra] about him,” Klopas said. “You have to understand when he was at Fulham he was a very young player. He had a lot of success but as a young player things do happen. I think it’s important to have the right people around you, to guide you in the right direction.”

“But he’s a guy that’s 24 years old. We’re not talking about a guy that’s 30 or 31. He’s played at a high level and it’s important to make sure that he understands that’s what we need out of him here.”

If Klopas determines that John has his head screwed on tight and is determined to play hard for the Fire, then I am all for bringing him into the fold. But should John join the Fire in preseason training and not show anything but hard work and pure dedication, Klopas should just say goodbye. The Fire just can’t afford – financially or in terms of chemistry – to have a player on the roster not be fully committed to bringing a MLS Cup back to Chicago next year.


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  • I think that's the right decision. I'm sure if he wants to be part of a team he will work on getting back to shape and adjusting to MLS style of game. This article also leads me to believe that Frank is still looking around for a DP...

  • posted @ 3:53am! sam were you just getting in from the party? i know thats to early for a college kid to be getting up.

  • In reply to kaca:

    Haha I wish. I had just finished studying for a midterm and decided to write then instead of getting up early to do it.

  • In reply to kaca:

    Im interested in knowing how much room we have left under the salary cap. Do you think Martinez and Krol are making more than 100,000 each? From just looking around the internet we lost an estimated 666,000 in cap space this year. The only players we brought in were those 2 plus the draft guys, but 2 of them are GA players so they don't count. So saying that Krol and Martinez make 150k a piece, and the draftees are making 30k a piece. That leaves us with 200k+ in cap space. If we can sign John for anything less than 150k then it should be an easy decision. As you said, this guy is 24 years old. The last guy we had that was a head case was in his mid 30's and couldn't move.

  • In reply to kaca:

    Klopas will make the right decision. It seems like there is a possibility of John becoming another Blanco, but there also is the opportunity for us to have a star in his prime. Klopas will make the right choice.

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