Hey Bobby you want to join me in Chicago? I'll give you a big hug!
Ah the scrap heap of MLS. Guys who were once counted on by their teams now discarded because next year's salary is to high. So who should the Fire be considering to take off the scrap heap? Join me after the jump where I will talk about phases, players, and make fun of Baggio Husidic. It will be fun!
First off we need to identify what an ideal off season would bring.
Midfield: A potential starter at left midfielder, depth at left midfield and depth at central attacking midfield
Forward: Anyone who can score goals consistently. Preferably someone who can win headers for Oduro.
Defense: A left back who could potentially start and provide relief for an over used Gonzalo Segares.
Midfielders: With Baggio Husidic thankfully (and I'm sure very slowly and already out of breath) on his way out, and the impending departure of Marco Pappa to FC Twente this is a position of considerable need. Particularly in the depth department. Even without those players leaving the Fire were already talking about adding another midfielder. There is some decent talent available for the Fire to consider.
1. Bobby Convey: The San Jose left midfielder was productive at times for San Jose last season. He has long feuded with manager Frank Yallop and accused him of "mind games". Convey was dropped from the starting 11 several times during the season and didn't see any action after August 27th. Unfortunately for him his salary figure of upwards of $300k was such a high number that San Jose expected him to be something that he wasn't. Thus they have decided to cut ties with him instead. Foolishly I think but then again I'm not the mastermind behind a team that is only good because they employ Chris Wondolowski.
I watch a lot of the league and I always thought San Jose was a better side when Convey was playing as a left midfielder. While he can play left back in a pinch (added value for the Fire here) you don't want him as one of your normal starters at the position. He is only 28 years old and has a lot of experience from his time with Reading in the first and second divisions of England. He could be a very valuable midfield player for the Fire during this upcoming season. Of course he has to be taken in phase 2 of the re entry draft as he isn't a player worth what his option is for this season. Still if he can be signed for somewhere around $125k I think you have to make the move. He provides Marco Pappa insurance and is another experienced midfielder. I would expect Convey to thrive under Frank Klopas who appears to be a players manager instead of a hardliner like Yallop appears to be in San Jose.
2. Arturo Alvarez: Another player who can play on the left side of the midfield and can move up to striker occasionally. Alvarez is another player being let go due to his salary. In this case he was due to make $200k next season and that was deemed to much for an experienced backup midfielder. I would agree yet I think he is worth another phase 2 draft pick if he can be signed to a more reasonable deal. If Pappa does indeed jet off to Twente in the near future (and that is looking less and less likely as he appears to be Twente's second or third choice) than an Alvarez/Convey combo would be a quality upgrade over the Pappa/no one situation. Even if Pappa stays taking Alvarez provides you some decent depth on the left hand side of the field and will at least push Pappa some (not as much as Convey). At 26 years old he provides you with another option in the midfielder of someone who has a significant amount of MLS experience yet is young enough to help for seasons to come.
3. Santino Quaranta: Santino had a very down 2011. Only 11 games started after a very good 2010 campaign. Quaranta missed some time with a concussion injury but also seemed to have fallen out of favor when healthy. He is still a productive MLS midfielder and at 27 is young enough to provide multiple productive seasons going forward. He would help with depth on the right midfield and could help in a withdrawn striker role on occasion. While not fitting one of the stated needs I think he is too talented to pass up. Nyarko was healthy for the bulk of last season but I'd feel considerably more comfortable if there was someone behind him to provide some aid.
4. Andy Williams: To me this is a bit of a stretch but Williams can play in a central creative midfield role. We all know how old he is but he can still get the job done. I thought he played solidly last season for RSL and was a bit surprised that they decided to not pick up his option. He could be a serviceable 1 year backup for Grazzini. I'd prefer any of the above before him strictly due to his age. Our central midfield is old enough and I'd prefer some solid veterans in their mid to late 20's over a player at the end of their career.
Forwards: Unsurprisingly there aren't any forwards available that are worth taking. Unless you want Nate Jaqua back, and I don't, then the cupboard is bare here.
Left Back: Again a position rather lacking. Good Left Backs are hard to find in this league and while the Fire already have someone who was at the minimum durable they need to find him a backup and someone to push him in his starting position. There isn't anyone here who I think can provide that.
There is a possibility to grab one or two players that can help in the upcoming season. I hope the Fire take better advantage of this than they did last season. As help is indeed needed if this team is going to make the playoffs next season.